UNESCO and the Peruvian Ministry of Culture organized a Regional Ministerial Meeting in Lima, Peru on 16-17 October 2013. The high-level meeting addressed current issues regarding the protection and research of submerged heritage, but also evaluated its potentials for development, education, and tourism in the Latin American and the Caribbean and regions.
The meeting was a high-point after a series of eleven regional meetings, which were organized since 2002 and which gathered the region’s political leaders and scientific experts. It acknowledged the steady increase of threats to underwater archaeological sites, especially through pillaging and commercial exploitation, but also the not yet used potential of underwater cultural heritage in terms of scientific research and recreational use. The meeting helped to create policies to apply better safeguarding strategies for this common heritage of humanity.
The Latin Amrican and the Caribbean regions provided recommendations to the Action Plan in line with the goal of creating policies to apply better safeguard strategies for underwater cultural heritage in these two regions.
The Caribbean region’s representatives suggested setting up a steering committee in order to monitor and share experiences with regard to the implementation of the 2001 Convention. They recommended using a regional political organization, for example CARICOM, as a vehicle to ensure governments’ commitment to the 2001 Convention. Also, the steering committee could evaluate the possibilities of developing a greater regional underwater cultural heritage project which would link the Caribbean islands to each other. The Caribbean participants pointed out that the development of one action plan has to take in to account previous action plans and statements from previous regional meetings addressing the 2001 Convention. They also welcomed the offer made by the Bahamas to host the next Regional Meeting on UCH in 2014. That meeting will offer the opportunity to review other aspects regarding the implementation of the 2001 Convention.
The Latin American region’s representatives’ recommendation underlined the necessity of adapting national laws, mapping underwater sites, building capacity, strengthening public education and identity, and taking action to prevent pillaging. In addition, projects such as developing cultural routes based on underwater cultural heritage, promoting access to sites, and developing marine parks were recommended. The Latin American representatives highlighted the need to organize small regional country meetings and involve enterprises as well.
The two regions strongly share the same recommendation of encouraging the ratification of the 2001 Convention in non-ratified countries, as well as its implementation by countries which have ratified the convention.