African Culture Ministers call for balancing heritage conservation and social and economic development
On 17 June 2013, in the context of the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Director-General, Irina Bokova, took part in the Round Table of African Ministers, organized by UNESCO and the African World Heritage Fund and attended by over 100 participants.
Ministers from Namibia, Tanzania, Chad, Mali, Kenya, Cape Verde, and Cameroun discussed the situation of World Heritage in their country and the challenges of balancing conservation and development issues, given the impact and benefit of both to local communities.
To the ministers, Irina Bokova affirmed that “Africa remains a global priority for UNESCO, and that it is committed to making a qualitative leap forward in strengthening the cultural capacities of the continent.”
The ministers highlighted the importance of channeling young peoples’ energy for heritage protection and encouraging solidarity in the region to build and protect shared heritage – especially in Mali, Somalia and South Sudan, who have recently emerged from conflict.
African Ministers underlined the importance of increasing the number and diversity of African nominations on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and recognized the progress made since the African World Heritage Fund began its capacity building programmes on the continent for nominations, disaster-risk preparedness training, management and conservation.
In this context, the Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture of Namibia pledged 1 million Namibian dollars to support the African World Heritage Fund’s Endowment Fund, while Kenya promised financial support for 2014. H. E. Mr. Sok An, Vice-Prime Minister and Chairperson of the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, pledged financial support to UNESCO’s fund for safeguarding Mali’s heritage and manuscripts, in addition to the provision announced earlier by his Prime Minister for support to the reconstruction of the Malian educational system.