Location of the initiative:
UNESCO and the European Commission (DG-EAC)
Relation to Strategy 21 Recommendations:
Time span of the initiative:
Start Date: 20-05-2019 / End Date: 24-05-2019
Motivation / Methodology
The European Young Heritage Professionals Forum was organized in the framework of the UNESCO-EU joint project ‘Engaging Youth for an Inclusive and Sustainable Europe’, as a part of the World Heritage Education (WHE) Programme and as the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage (EYCH 2018). The Forum was hosted by the Croatian Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and was developed in close cooperation with the NGO Diadrasis. The European Young Heritage Professionals Forum was designed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of young heritage professionals from the EU, who are engaged in cultural heritage protection and safeguarding. It proposed an innovative approach to cultural heritage by addressing tangible heritage and intangible cultural heritage in tandem and exploring synergies and challenges of their protection and safeguarding in the European context. Two local case studies from Zadar- the Art of Dry-Stone Walling and the Venetian Works of Defence - offered an excellent opportunity to experience this comparison in a direct and hands-on manner.
One of the key objectives of the Forum was to enable the participants to become ‘Cultural Heritage Messengers’ by actively engaging them in raising awareness about heritage in their communities and countries, beyond their own individual projects.
The Forum adapted interactive approaches to knowledge transmission using tailor made activities, fostering peer-to-peer learning and intercultural exchange between the participants and the experts. The methodologies used included lectures, presentations, group discussions, field experiences, project laboratories and workshops.
Obstacles / Barriers
The Forum aimed to bring together heritage professionals working with both tangible heritage and intangible cultural heritage. However, most young professionals had experience in only one form of heritage and came with limited background and experience in the others. To explore the synergies between the two kinds of heritage, the participants had to be introduced to the frameworks of the 1972 World Heritage Convention and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Forum witnessed the interest of many heritage professionals from within Europe as well as internationally. Unfortunately, since non-EU citizens were not eligible to apply for the Forum, it reduced the possibility of exploring projects focusing on European heritage, that were proposed by non-citizen residents of the EU.
Maintaining gender balance among the selected participants was a challenge, given the predominance of applications received from female candidates.
Similarly, challenges were also faced in maintaining the ratio between project proposals focussing on tangible heritage or intangible cultural heritage exclusively, and those addressing both the elements.
Furthermore, the Forum strived to have equal representation from the 28 Member States of the EU (as of May 2019), which was difficult to achieve due to the disproportionate interest and applications from the Member States.
Change / Impact
The Forum was the first initiative of its kind to address the synergies between tangible heritage and intangible cultural heritage. It highlighted the contrast and the different approaches to heritage and communities and underlined their complementarity. The participants gained a better understanding of both the 1972 and the 2003 Conventions and the opportunities offered by a holistic approach to heritage.
The project laboratories that took place every day, allowed the participants to refine their ideas and improve their projects further by offering them training in heritage management, project management and communications.
Through their learnings from the emotion design approach and using the format of storytelling, the participants designed an interactive awareness-raising campaign to engage with the local community in Zadar on the meaning of Dry-Stone Walling and the Venetian Works of Defence in their lives. This successful campaign paved the way for the participants to implement similar communication campaigns within their local communities, focusing on their heritage.
The Forum was successful in creating a network of "Cultural Heritage Messengers" who can raise awareness within their communities and countries, about cultural heritage protection and safeguarding and spread the word about the strong potential of heritage to drive positive social change. These young and committed Messengers have continued to engage with one another, sharing updates on their individual projects and other professional opportunities. They have also continued to involve themselves in other initiatives and projects led by UNESCO and the EU. Notably, these first edition alumni are working towards an informal follow-up meeting to the Forum and exploring the possibility of further editions.
The Forum highlighted the need for exploring and promoting a holistic approach to heritage that can bring together tangible and intangible cultural heritage and enable meaningful interactions between the two.
The Forum also brought forth the global interest in building the capacity of young professionals in heritage. It posed the opportunity of expanding this approach towards heritage beyond the EU, to the neighbouring European nations, and subsequently, the rest of the world.
The Forum also emphasized the need for creating and maintaining a global network of Cultural Heritage Messengers, who may foster a sense of belonging within their communities and countries, for heritage within their boundaries and beyond. This network would be crucial for the exchange of knowledge and skills between professionals and in developing a global community committed to heritage.
Source of financing
Shared public/private financing