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Towards a New Strategy for Cultural Heritage in the Mediterranean

(21-23 January 2013, Fez, Morocco)
How can heritage be integrated within development policies? How can it be a source of employment? How can it become a vector for citizenship?

How can heritage be integrated with development policies? How can it be a source of employment? How can it become a vector for citizenship?

These are some of the questions that the experts who attended the Euromed Heritage closing conference last week in Fez, Morocco, addressed in order to prepare the final document and their recommendations concerning the future of cultural heritage in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

Critical assessment of achievements and the challenges faced has provided a number of constructive ideas on which future actions should be built, including:

  1. The safeguarding of heritage is achieved through the appropriation by the citizens;
  2. Heritage should be mobilised as a key for the advancement of local communities through acquired skills, more particularly traditional ones, and job generation.
  3. Heritage is a multi‐disciplinary field and should be tackled at the interface of various developmental avenues, and more particularly tourism, energy and environment.
  4. Heritage needs to engage well‐regulated public/private partnerships (financing & management), and programmes should focus on empowerment of SMEs with effective participation of NGOs, inhabitants, and media...
  5. Heritage development imposes a comprehensive territorial approach, including particular attention to social and dwelling issues/dimensions.
  6. Partner countries have developed their capacities and now it is up to them to take up the initiative and go further, although the support and mediation of the European Union should be maintained within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

A new process was defined, which aims to integrate heritage in development policies that promote the well-being of the populations. It underlines the value of a cross‐cutting approach that mobilises various ministries/authorities (ahead and along), in articulation with universities, specialised schools (cf EPA), education (training and research) and in partnerships with the private sector.

The Head of the EU Delegation to Morocco, Ambassador Eneko Landaburu, said in his welcoming speech to the conference: “Cultural heritage has an enormous potential in terms of economic and human development. The economic crisis hitting the European Union, and the world in general, is limiting the resources available to support cooperation programmes; but the cause for cultural heritage is still worth fighting for, and cultural heritage should stay on the agenda of both the European Union and the Mediterranean partner countries.”

During the conference, over 100 Euromed Heritage experts formed into working groups to brainstorm about main issues that they have identified. They have reacted positively to the ‘Interactive Group Method’, an innovative participatory approach that combines two apparently incompatible elements, freedom (of expression, choice, movement) and structure (time constraints, clear objectives, written outputs), therefore resulting in a “perspective” document for the future (available here).

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