SAARC Capacity Building Workshop on Preparation of Proposals of New Sites for Inclusion in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List concludes successfully in Lumbini, Nepal



SAARC Cultural Centre is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the SAARC Capacity Building Workshop on ‘Preparation of Proposals of New Sites for Inclusion in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List’ held at the Buddhamaya Garden Hotel and Resort, Lumbini, Nepal, from 3-8 August 2014.

This was the second Workshop organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre as part of its efforts for building capacity of the participants drawn from mid/ senior level professionals involved in cultural/ heritage sites management in the SAARC Member States to prepare proposals for new sites for the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The first SAARC Capacity Building Workshop on ‘Management Systems of World Heritage Sites in South Asia’, was held at Islamabad, Pakistan, from 25-31 August 2013.

Both these Workshops were held with the technical support of World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITR-AP), Shanghai (China).

The Workshop at Lumbini was organized by the SAARC Cultural Centre in collaboration of the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal. It included lectures, Country Presentations and Open Discussions on protection and conservation of World Heritage Sites and was attended by over 40 participants from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

Inaugural Session
The workshop was inaugurated by Mr. Ranjan Krishna Aryal, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of Nepal. Welcome Addresses were delivered by Mr. G.L.W. Samarasinghe, Director, SAARC Cultural Centre on behalf of the SAARC Cultural Centre and Mr. Bhesh Narayan Dhahal, Director General, Department of Archaeology, on behalf of the Government of Nepal. Dr. Sanjay Garg, Deputy Director, Research, SAARC Cultural Centre proposed the Vote of Thanks.

Academic Sessions
A total of 12 special lectures, 8 country presentations, and 4 Round Table Discussion sessions were held for the purpose of improving capacity and skills required to develop the potential World Heritage Sites in the SAARC Region and to undertake the prescribed nomination process, to share practical knowledge on lessons learnt on Heritage Sites Conservation and Management and to share the existing knowledge on the prevailing systems among the countries and to learn from each other.

Special Lectures were delivered by four renowned experts, viz.

Dr. Jukka Jokilehto

Consultant and Lecturer in Architectural and Urban Conservation, Professor at University of Nova Garcia (Slovenia), Honorary Visiting Professor at University of York and Special Advisor to ICCROM, Rome;

Dr. Ayesha Pamela Rogers

UNESCO Chair in Management of Historic Towns and of the collaborative UNESCO-WHITRAP- Office of Commissioner, Rawalpindi Historic Urban Landscape Project and Professor, National College of Arts, Rawalpindi, Pakistan;

Dr. Rohit Jigyasu

UNESCO Chair Professor at the Institute for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, Senior Advisor at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), and President, ICOMOS-India; and

Architect Kai Weise

Chairperson PAHAR (Planners’ Alliance for the Himalayan and Allied Regions), Nepal, Consultant, UNESCO, for Management of World Heritage properties, President ICOMOS-Nepal, and Member ICOMOS ICORP (International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness).

The Special Lectures covered following topics:

  1. Introducing the World Heritage Convention
  2. Working with World Heritage from 2003 to 2014 – Lessons Learnt
  3. WH Convention’s Theoretical and Methodological Framework within UNESCO’s Mandate, Structure, Other Conventions and Recommendations
  4. Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the WH Convention
  5. Nomination Process: Criteria, Boundaries, Nomination Dossiers, New Trends and Issues
  6. Evaluation of Nominations by Advisory Bodies and Decisions by the Committee
  7. Global Strategy, Trans-boundary and Serial Nominations
  8. Legislative, Regulatory and Institutional Arrangements and Conservation Planning
  9. Assessment of State of Conservation through Indicators, including Concepts of Authenticity and Integrity
  10. Reactive Monitoring and Periodic Reporting Processes
  11. Management Systems and Management Planning
  12. Site Interpretation Strategies, and Operational Aspects related to Tourism

Group Discussion and Presentations
As part of Group Discussion, the participants were divided into four groups and were asked to suggest at least three aspects of historical and cultural spaces and linkages within South Asia with common attributes that bear outstanding heritage significance at SAARC regional level. Then they were requested to suggest at least three principal requirements for their recognition as heritage and their recommendations regarding initiating such a project at SAARC level. The groups were also asked to discuss and present three most common issues and challenges for preparing nominations for this unique shared heritage in SAARC region. Finally, they were asked to provide three suggestions to build the capacity of SAARC member countries to prepare successful World Heritage Nominations. Each Group Discussions was followed by Feedback and Q&A session.

Field Trip
As part of the Workshop, the participants were taken to Tilaurakot and Ramagrama that are included in the Tentative List of the World Heritage Sites for on-site discussion of issues related to: criteria, boundaries, state of conservation, site management and presentation, among others. The Field trip was guided by Architect Kai Weise and was facilitated by the Lumbini Development Trust.

The Plenary Session
At the conclusion of the Academic Sessions, a Plenary Session was held on 8 August 2014 as a closed door session in which all Resource Persons as well as a representative each from official delegations from the Member States were invited. It was chaired by Dr. Jukka Jojhilehto. The Plenary Committee summarized the main suggestions emerging out of the deliberations and prepared a set of recommendations for the SAARC Member States. Recommendations covered a wide array of areas including continuation to work in close cooperation with WHITR-AP Shanghai (China), on different aspects of capacity building and research in the field of heritage management in the region, working closely with the proposed UNESCO’s Category 2 Centre (C2C) – ASPAC Regional Centre for Conservation and management of World Heritage Sites (ARCOM-WHS) – at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), New Delhi (India), especially in view of the fact that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), for cooperation in the field of culture has already been signed between the SAARC and UNESCO on 29 January 2008 and the setting up of the SAARC Heritage Committee (SHC) under the auspices of the SAARC Cultural Centre and to that effect a Working Group formed by the SAARC Cultural Centre will is to be formed at the earliest to work out its structure, membership format, funding aspects, etc. as well as activities based on a consolidated Terms of Reference

Valedictory Session
The Valedictory Session of the Workshop was held on 8 August 2014 at Buddha Maya Garden Hotel, Lumbini. Hon. Mr. Bhim Prasad Acharya, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of Nepal graced the occasion as the Chief Guest and distributed certificates and mementos to all participants of the workshop. The event was also attended by other dignitaries and distinguished invitees from Nepal. A Cultural Programme, followed by dinner hosted by the Hon’ble Minister concluded the Workshop.