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1st Regional Conference 2019



Overall the workshop has achieved the three objectives of the initiative. The participants were invited to learn and exchange on the role of the international and regional community to protect and support religious minorities’ cultural heritage. The participants were positive towards the initiative and found the panels useful, inspiring, and motivated them to continue their efforts.

The conference promoted dialogue and encouraged the participants not to be dissuaded by the challenges they are facing. They stated to have found the presentation of the Moroccan approach useful and engaging. They particularly appreciated the combined approach, which includes not only communities but also institutional and religious actors. They noted the importance of holding a political support to facilitate this kind of synergy. Second, participants were able to enhance their thinking around violent extremism by gaining additional knowledge about cultural heritage protection and how they can raise awareness around this topic. The conference also enabled them to take further what they learned throughout the program and apply it in their work with other people, especially within the framework of tolerance and decreased levels of prejudice towards others.

They highlighted that this political support is challenging in conflict-ridden countries and that they also lack expertise and financial resources, to join the efforts. Nevertheless, they considered ways to overcome these challenges by being more engaging and inclusive towards communities. The conference was an opportunity to discuss the praxis of a participatory approach and community engagement, the use of digital technologies and prospects for funding. Finally, participants highlighted that  exchanging and communicating with other actors face to face helped them develop their network.

The First Regional Conference on Cultural Heritage Protection of Religious Communities offered a range of sessions including presentation of specific experiences and programs as well as debate on the imperatives to protect existing cultural heritage in the regions.

Although the participants rated their experience of the Conference as overall favorable, 40% of the participants indicated that they found panel three as being the most informative and useful for their future work.

Furthermore,  the evaluation has found that the Conference largely met its set goals. The added value of the Conference was anticipated to be networking and discussing, which was confirmed by most participants as having been attained.

To reinforce and build on the success of the First Regional Conference, the following recommendations are proposed for future follow up initiatives.

  • Developing expertise: given that the highest reported benefit for participants was to learn about approaches and strategies to better protect the cultural heritage of religious minorities, activities and actions could be carried out to develop skills among different actors. These actions could include more workshops and hands-on training
  • Networking: the Conference aimed to provide participants with exchange and leverage for supporting their initiatives. Future events should consider including structured  networking activities to allow participants the opportunity to discuss their collaboration tangibly.
  • Engaging communities: the participants highlighted the need to engage and include communities in heritage protection projects. Suggestions include developing activities combining the needs of the communities with the interests of cultural heritage protection, participative approach standards, and community development.

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