The First Regional Conference on Cultural Heritage Protection for Religious Communities
Post-Conference Report 2019
The First Regional Conference on Cultural Heritage Protection for Religious Communities offered an opportunity for regional exchange of best practices, experience as well as raised greater awareness among the participants about the importance of the issue.This summary describes the preliminary findings on the conference on Cultural Heritage Protection from the questionnaires distributed among the participants.
The findings highlight a significant interest of the participants on the issue of cultural heritage protection in their communities. Overall, they are positive about the relevance of the issues discussed during the conference.
The surveyed participants highlighted the importance of connecting cultural heritage to economic development and strengthening positive values such as tolerance, community dialogue, and the prevention of extremist ideologies.
The surveyed participants emphasized the positive impact of reinforcing the mechanisms for the protection of cultural heritage in their communities.The respondents identified protection of material and immaterial historical heritage as a key to resilience-building values. Some of the respondents suggested utilizing cultural heritage as a tool to prevent and counter extremist narratives from spreading across their respective regions. Additionally, the surveyed participants from the NGO sector emphasized the connection between cultural heritage and sustainable development. In particular, they pointed to the opportunity of protecting cultural heritage of religious communities to drive the economy through the creation of jobs and the development of the tourism industry and other income-generating investments in remote areas.
When asked about the challenges, the majority of the respondents indicated that they are confronted to the lack of sufficient resources, collaboration issues among relevant stakeholders as well as the lack of awareness of communities. The majority of respondents were in agreement that the Moroccan model is very inspiring and can be applied in their country to some extent. They indicated their interest in the efforts undertaken by Morocco to protect specific religious sites within an interfaith dialogue framework. They also call attention to the role played by institutions collaboration. The respondents were receptive to the multi-disciplinary approach in the preservation of cultural heritage. One respondent describes Morocco’s model as strategic and contextually relevant to the challenges of the region. Another respondent highlighted that Morocco’s grounded approach provides opportunities to develop tools to resolve identity-based conflicts.
Finally, the respondents considered that the panel conducted positive exchanges. The sessions were an opportunity to increase their knowledge on the topic, and to meet practitioners to identify potential points for collaboration across the region. In general, they are favorable to the prospect of developing their efforts in cultural heritage protection towards tangible activity-based projects.
This report concludes on lessons learned for future similar initiatives.
The conference, for the first time, brought together representatives from five regions of the world to discuss how to promote religious freedom and protect religious communities. The recommendations include:
- Develop a platform for exchange among practitioners, organizations, researchers and institutional actors.
- The use of a dedicated ambassador for the protection of the cultural heritage of religious communities in different regions.
- Engage the community in preservation initiatives and responsibilize them to the preservation of the cultural heritage of religious minorities.
- Support civic engagement programs.
- The creation of a sustainability plan including opportunities for participants to continue building on what they have learned from the conference and further initiatives which focus on conflict transformation and economic development.
- The importance of investing in conducting programs which include a digital mapping and digital preservation.