With the increased opportunities and scope of engaging with heritage, the protection of heritage has also become a global challenge in the 21st century. Youth are the most affected by the key development changes, and hence it is their voice and vision that are the most crucial.
This year, the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum was held in Baku, a city founded on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period. The Walled City of Baku represents an outstanding and rare example of a historic urban ensemble and architecture with influence from diverse cultures overtime. The city has experienced contemporary changes, which have affected decisions and actions on heritage protection: it emphasizes well, the challenges faced in World Heritage preservation and protection in the 21st Century. Hence, befittingly, the theme of this year’s Forum was chosen as “World Heritage: Local Insights for Global Challenges”.
The 30 selected participants of the Forum immersed themselves in the topics linked to the theme of the Forum. They visited the World Heritage sites of Walled City of Baku and the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, explored various concepts in greater depth, including the New Urban Agenda, the Historic Cultural Landscapes and the Sustainable Development Goals, and participated in multiple discussions, lectures, group work and site visits, led by local and international heritage experts.
The Forum also served as a platform for the participants to explore the various facets of heritage, and reflect upon the synergies between tangible heritage and intangible cultural heritage. Through the World Heritage Committee simulation, the young professionals also discovered and appreciated the work of the World Heritage Committee by discussing the state of conservation of a fictitious World Heritage property, and gained a deeper understanding of the World Heritage Convention.
During the Forum, the participants exchanged their ideas, concerns as well as the opportunities to ensure the sustainability of World Heritage. They presented the results of their work in the form of a Declaration on 1 July at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. In the Declaration, they provided local insights to the global challenges of urban heritage and cultural landscapes, acknowledging the need for the local communities to play a central role in the human society-nature interaction.
A video was also presented to show how the young professionals immersed themselves in the Forum. Expressing their support to the International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, the participants also performed an Australian indigenous dance following the presentation of the Declaration.
The World Heritage Centre would like to thank and congratulate all the young professionals for their work and involvement as partners, as well as their strong commitment to World Heritage.
The World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2019 was hosted by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan as an integral part of the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee, in the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, under the theme of ‘'World Heritage: Local Insights for Global Challenges’ from 23 June to 2 July 2019 in Baku (Azerbaijan).