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Civil society and cultural heritage in the Mediterranean: EH 4 Regional Conference

(Palermo, Italy, 24-25 February 2010)
The active involvement of civil society, the best way to safeguard Mediterranean heritage and create opportunities for human and economic development

This conference, organised by RMSU-EH 4 in collaboration with “CERISDI-Centro Ricerche e Studi Direzionali” of Palermo, is a platform to introduce state-of-the-art theories, methodologies and good practice in mobilising civil society around cultural heritage, and their impact on its healthy development within the EuroMed region. It will gather EH 4 projects partners, representatives of civil society entities involved in heritage, and officials from public authorities and international institutions.

The main objective of the conference is to highlight the role civil society as main stakeholder, can have in the promotion and development of cultural heritage. It will highlight the value of cultural heritage as a factor for converging public and community interest for the common good, and as an increasingly important lever for economic development for local communities, particularly in the tourism sector and through the development of women enterprise in Mediterranean Partner countries.

It is RMSU’s belief that a fruitful collaboration between public authorities and civil society components is paramount for the implementation of good policies for the safeguard of cultural heritage and the carrying out of related activities for human and economic development. Activities such as sustainable cultural tourism, traditional arts and crafts industry, etc., could help develop the raising of micro, small and medium enterprises as well as market and labour opportunities with positive effects on the democratic process and the emergence of a stronger, richer and more involved civil society. At the same time, to operate in a suitable way civil society needs an appropriate framework that only the public sector can provide: protection laws, urbanisation regulations, building rights, recognition of intangible heritage value, integration of international instruments at the national level, policies of respect of the difference, awareness and education, etc.

Through interventions of eminent speakers, and analysis of case studies and best practice, the debates will revolve around themes such as how to mobilise local groups in community based tourism and youth to guarantee the sustainability of cultural heritage projects and actions; how to sustain women involvement in enterprise and create micro-funding facilities; how museums can play a role as spaces for discussions, debates and promotion of cultural heritage encouraging local ownership and stimulating pride and civic responsibilities; and how to improve institutional frameworks for the recognition of civil society by public authorities.

The conference will formulate recommendations addressed to the wider Euromed Heritage network and to the public authorities in Mediterranean Partner countries.

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