World Heritage no. 69: Agricultural landscapes
UNESCO World Heritage Centre, October 2013

Agricultural landscapes are a testimony to humanity’s long interaction with the land, often unique examples of people and nature co-existing and influencing each other. They demonstrate a rich cultural and landscape diversity, sustainable land-use systems and in some cases people’s daily struggle for survival under extreme climatic and environmental conditions. The 19th-century coffee plantations in Cuba; Stari Grad Plain in Croatia, where grapes and olives have been harvested since ancient Greek times; Konso Cultural Landscape in Ethiopia, where fortified settlements embody a living cultural tradition stretching back twenty-one generations and adapted to a harsh environment; and the subak water management system in Bali (Indonesia), where the spiritual, human and natural worlds are brought together in a philosophy that has shaped the landscape while ensuring prolific rice production – all of these are exceptional examples of an enduring and harmonious interaction. The issue also presents the new World Heritage sites inscribed during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, Phnom Penh (Cambodia) in June 2013. Read the issue …


Traditional Knowledge for Adapting to Climate Change: Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Pacific
UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICHCAP), 2013

This information brochure has been produced to highlight examples of how intangible cultural heritage contributes to climate change adaptation efforts in the Pacific. Examples relate to traditional navigation systems, environmental resource management, vernacular architecture, and social cohesion, networks and cooperation. It is argued that adaptation to change is part of the lifestyles of the Pacific community. Traditional knowledge, values and practices (or intangible cultural heritage) underpin the ability of the Pacific community to successfully live and thrive in the Pacific environment. In synergy with other scientific knowledge, intangible cultural heritage may enhance the communities’ resilience against natural disasters and climate change. Consideration for culture should be integrated into reducing disaster risk and adapting climate change policies, plans and actions. Download the publication [pdf] …

Adaptation Toolkit: Guidebook for Researchers and Adaptation Practitioners Working with Local Communities
Gifty Ampomah, Tahia Devisscher, Energie Environnement Développement, Stockholm Environment Institute, March 2013

This toolkit aims to help conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment and develop adaptation strategies based on current capacities. Specifically, researchers are able to: identify current capacities, skills and assets in a project site, understand climate-related events in the past and coping strategies used, as well as current climatic/environmental hazards that shape vulnerability; and on this basis facilitate a multi-stakeholder process for developing locally suitable adaptation strategies. Download the guidebook [pdf] …

Mapping and Documenting Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana
Benjamin A. Gyampoh, Winston A. Asante, Africa Adaptation Programme, UN Development Programme, 2011

This study assesses the extent of community observation of changes in climate and associated impacts as well as community-based approaches used in coping with the changes. For each climatic observation, the people provide evidence to support their claim as well as early, short term and long term responses to these changes. Information on local indicators for predicting climate was also collected in all the communities that were surveyed. Also important were the extent to which the community-based indicators supported rural livelihoods and coping with changes in weather patterns as well as the potential threats to these knowledge systems. Communities’ awareness of and usage of climate information was also assessed. Indigenous knowledge used in adapting to changing climate have been identified and documented as part of the findings of this study. The knowledge systems offer readily available and significant opportunities for integration into climate change adaptation programmes, including disaster risk reduction programmes. The study reveals that communities rightly observe changes in their climate and have substantial understanding on what goes on around them and how they should make adjustments to ensure their livelihoods go on. The communities are able to provide concrete evidence of the observed changes to buttress their observation. However, some of the useful indicators that have and continue to help the people know changes in their environment and adapt their livelihoods accordingly are threatened with extinction due to the enormous changes in the environment. Habitats of plants, animals, birds and insects which have played significant roles as climatic indicators are being lost or modified, resulting in most of these indicators either migrating or dying. Despite a wider awareness of the weather forecasts given by the Ghana Meteorological agency, most farmers did not plan their activities based on the weather forecast; the major reason being that they found it to be less reliable and also too general instead of being tailored to their specific communities. This makes the application of indigenous knowledge in weather prediction using traditional indicators very relevant to the rural farmer. To fully benefit from the usefulness of the indigenous knowledge, there is the need for long term studies to validate the indigenous knowledge and incorporate them into scientific knowledge systems for effective adaptation strategies. Download the publication [pdf] …

Peru to chair the 9th session of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage
UNESCO release, 7 December 2013

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN: The 8th annual meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguard of Intangible Heritage, marked by the 10th anniversary of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, ended in Baku today with the election of José Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Peru to UNESCO, as chair of the next session. The 9th session will take place in Paris, France, from 24 to 28 November 2014. During the meeting, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, Francesco Bandarin and Lassana Cissé, Mali’s National Director for Cultural Heritage, signed an agreement whereby Mali will receive $307,307 in emergency assistance from the Intangible Heritage Fund for the compilation of an inventory of its intangible cultural heritage. The project involves taking stock of intangible cultural heritage—knowledge and practices concerning nature, oral traditions, rituals and festivals, traditional crafts etc.—over the entire country. Four elements were inscribed on the List Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which helps States Parties mobilize international cooperation and assistance to ensure the transmission of this heritage with the participation of the concerned communities. The Committee also inscribed 25 elements on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which serves to raise awareness of intangible heritage and provide recognition to communities’ traditions and know-how that reflect their cultural diversity. Read the release …

8th session of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage opens in Baku
UNESCO press release, 2 December 2013

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN: The eighth yearly meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, chaired by Abulfas Garayev, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, opened in Baku in the presence of some 800 delegates from approximately 100 countries. From 2 to 7 December, the 24 members of the Committee in charge of implementing UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage will take stock of achievements in promoting intangible cultural heritage ten years after the adoption of the Convention, which has been ratified by 157 States Parties. During the meeting, the Committee inscribed new elements in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding including: Chovqan, a traditional Karabakh horse-riding game in the Republic of Azerbaijan; the Paach ceremony celebrated in Guatemala; Mongolian calligraphy; and the Empaako tradition of the Batooro, Banyoro, Batuku, Batagwenda and Banyabindi of western Uganda. In addition, 14 elements were inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

An exhibition from 28 October to 10 December 2013 on the railings of the UNESCO buildings in Paris, France, aims to illustrate the role that living heritage can play in sustainable development, and will be available to the public in digital form in the future. The examples taken from different parts of the world have attempted to show how the cultural practices, expressions and knowledge that form the intangible cultural heritage are important, among other things, for the respect of sustainable environment, food security, the support of community livelihoods, strengthening social cohesion and resolving disputes. Read the release … Further information on the meeting … Visit the meeting’s website … Follow the meeting’s live webcast …

Training Workshop: Community-based Inventorying of Intangible Cultural Heritage
22-28 November 2013 (Shymkent, Kazakhstan)

This training workshop is aimed at enhancing the national capacities in the field of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, in particular inventorying under the 2003 UNESCO Convention on intangible cultural heritage, including practical technical skills in inventory-making. Experts from Kazakhstan will be trained in identifying, defining, inventorying and documenting intangible cultural heritage. They are in charge of implementing concrete safeguarding activities and conducting training in the management and appropriate transmission of intangible cultural heritage, while undertaking and/or coordinating related scientific, technical, legal, economic and other studies. The purpose of this session is to raise awareness about the value and diversity of the intangible cultural heritage and ensure community participation and consent in all activities concerning their intangible cultural heritage. Participants will be from governmental and non-governmental organizations, communities and institutions, with preference given to local communities. Further information …

Cambodia and Samoa on the right track to safeguard their rich intangible cultural heritage
UNESCO release, 22 October 2013

APIA, SAMOA: A six-day community-based inventorying workshop organized from 21-26 October 2013 in Savaii Island, Samoa, is bringing together some 50 participants ranging from intangible cultural heritage custodians, traditional leaders, senior government officials, NGOs, community-based organizations etc. The workshop aims at enhancing the national capacity of Samoa, both in government institutions and in civil society, to safeguard its intangible cultural heritage on a long-term basis, particularly through the inventorying of intangible cultural heritage components, the active involvement of the communities concerned, and hands-on experience. At the same time, a workshop on the preparation of nomination files to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists is being held from 21-25 October 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The event is the final of a series of three capacity-building events over the last 18 months aimed at the safeguarding of the manifestations of Cambodia’s living heritage. It will provide training on how to prepare nomination files for the Urgent Safeguarding List and Representative List, as well as proposals for the Register of Best Practices and requests for international assistance. Read the release …

Mauritania launches capacity-building activities to safeguard its living heritage
UNESCO release, 17 October 2013

RABAT, MOROCCO: As part of a larger project concerning Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia, the UNESCO Rabat Office is organizing its first training workshop on the implementation of the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kaédi, Mauritania, from 22 to 26 October 2013. The primary aim of this first activity is to ensure that the key concepts of the Convention are well understood and integrated by the various stakeholders for the safeguarding of the living heritage of Mauritania; it will be followed by a series of other targeted activities over the next months. Read the release …

Training on the use of the mechanisms of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Santiago del Estero and Buenos Aires (Argentina)
UNESCO release, 15 October 2013

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: From 14 to 22 October 2013, capacity-building sessions on preparing nominations to the Lists of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage take place in Argentina, first in Santiago del Estero, in the Gran Chaco Region, and then in Buenos Aires. At their end, about 70 participants, including government officials and members of non-governmental organizations involved in safeguarding cultural heritage from Argentina, but also from Paraguay and Uruguay, will have received theoretical and practical training on the nomination process understood as a planning process of community-based safeguarding measures. Further information …

International Expert and Stakeholder Workshop on the Contribution of Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES: Building Synergies with Science
9-11 June 2013 (Tokyo, Japan)

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released the report of the international expert and stakeholder workshop on the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge systems to IPBES. The workshop was convened by the IPBES Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, co-organized by the United Nations University (UNU) and UNESCO, and hosted by Japan’s Ministry of Environment. The report summarizes discussions on opportunities, challenges and needs with respect to indigenous and local knowledge in the IPBES framework, and identifies appropriate procedures and approaches for creating synergies between science and indigenous and local knowledge in regard to four themes: rethinking relationships between science and indigenous and local knowledge; fundamental aspects of indigenous and local knowledge; principles for engagement with holders of indigenous and local knowledge; and capacity-building needs. The report notes consensus among experts at the workshop that substantial effort is needed to satisfy the IPBES Work Programme objective to develop an adequate and comprehensive set of principles and procedures for building synergies between knowledge systems. Recommendations focus on approaches and procedures for working with indigenous and local knowledge in the IPBES framework, as well as an IPBES conceptual framework itself. In regard to approaches and procedures, recommendations include recognizing indigenous peoples and local communities as having a distinct status as knowledge-holders and rights-holders; putting in place mechanisms to ensure attention to gender-specific knowledge and gender balance; establishing a working group composed of indigenous and local knowledge-holders and scientists; and using a wide variety of media, languages, forums and communication processes to maximize participation and learning from indigenous and local knowledge-holders. The report will be presented for further consideration at the second session of the IPBES Plenary, to be held from 9-14 December 2013, in Antalya, Turkey. Visit the workshop’s webpage … Download the report [pdf] …

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