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UNESCO Intangible Heritage moves on with the contribution of Monaco.

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

The concept of “Cultural Heritage” has been developed considerably largely under the impulse of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation . From the 28th November until the 3rd December 2022, the 17th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, was held in Rabat (Morocco), under the chairmanship of the Kingdom of Morocco. A delegation from the Principality of Monaco took an active part in the summit. This field is an integral part of UNESCO's action plan, being in charge of Culture in its broadest sense. The global cultural heritage, in fact, does not include only monuments or collection of objects but also traditions and any further element coming from our ancestors. Notably: oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, traditional-craft background as well as knowledge and practices about Nature and Universe.

Photo >> Photo >> H.E. Mrs Anne-Marie Boisbouvier, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Principality of Monaco to UNESCO, attending the 17th session of the Intergovernmental Committee in Rabat (Morocco) © DR

The latter refers to a set of know-how and representations developed by communities in their interaction with the natural environment. The human attachment to ecosystems and biodiversity can be expressed through language, feelings, memories, spirituality and worldview. All that contributes to tighten the empathy and the 'ancestral' bond between human beings and the wild, encouraging the environmentally friendly spirit. This knowledge can be traditional, ecological or indigenous with direct reference to local flora and fauna, medicines, rituals, beliefs, initiation rites, cosmologies, shamanism, rites of possession, social organisation, festivities, languages or visual arts. Community’s culture and identity are often threatened by globalisation, with particular reference to those practices that do not have a commercial or scientific interest.

The natural environment can be seriously impacted by an intensive urbanisation and the expansion of agricultural land. Deforestation, as well, can eradicate local eco-beliefs and destroy sacred natural spots. Moreover, endangered species are put at risk by climate change, the ongoing massive deforestation and the extension of desert areas. Thus, customary ingredients for natural remedies and raw materials for local handicraft quickly disappear. At the same time, many disadvantaged communities can be pushed to change their habits towards a purely economic model that negatively affects their natural sense of respecting of nature.

This session added forty-seven new elements to the Convention, including four intangible cultural heritage placed under emergency, thirty-nine intangible cultural heritage of humanity, together with a series of good practices for the safeguarding.

A relevant part of topics of interest (one third of the total) was related to Nature, highlighting the important issue of biodiversity preservation. The ancestral cultural background, in fact, is crucial to forge and keep live environmental sensitivity in present times. Let's think about organic farming techniques, as an example.

This essential heritage is ruled by a targeted Convention on traditional knowledge, arts and know-how adopted in 2003 to which Monaco is contracting party. The Agreement includes 2,000 participants from more than 110 countries who constantly operate to ensure the proper implementation of the Convention. The official delegation from the Principality of Monaco was chaired by H.E. Anne-Marie Boisbouvier, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, accompanied by Agatha Korczak, First Secretary. The Principality of Monaco has received official thanks from the UNESCO Secretariat and a special mention was made in one of the decisions adopted by States.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, pointed out: « This living heritage plays an essential role in bringing people closer together and in fostering peace in their minds ».

Photo >> From left to right: Noëline Raondry RakotoarisoaH.E. Anne-Marie Boisbouvier and Vladimir Ryabinin (5th December 2022)

Following the summit, on the 5th December 2022, H.E. Anne-Marie Boisbouvier, Monaco Ambassador to UNESCO, together with Noëline Raondry Rakotoarisoa, Representative of UNESCO’s Assistant Director of the Science Sector, signed a partnership within the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in order to financially support young scientists in their fields of expertise. In particular, at the 34th session of the International Coordinating Committee of the MAB Programme (MAB-ICC), the Principality of Monaco proposed to strengthen the link between this programme and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development. On this occasion, Vladimir Ryabinin, Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission - IOC, joined this partnership.

The Principality of Monaco is willing, then, to bring the legacy of Prince Albert I a pioneer supporter of oceanography and science, pillars of the UNESCO's mission. A special tribute on this year's centenary of His death. ***


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By Maurice Abbati

Springer International Publishing

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