A presentation will be given of UNESCO’s Action Plans related to cultural heritage in times of conflict, as well as a summary of campaign activities so far, both online and in the field, It will also provide some insights into how a powerful cultural narrative can be key in overcoming the propaganda of extremist groups.
The event will bring together heritage champions from around the world to speak about their experiences in protecting cultural heritage from destruction. These include Iraqi Dominican priest Najeeb Michaeel and El Boukhari Ben Essayouti, current Head of the Cultural Mission of Timbuktu. Annie Sartre, a world-renowned expert on Palmyra and its famous ruler Queen Zenobia, will share her insights on the destruction of this hugely important site, which reverberated around the world this year. The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova will also officially launch the Heritage Preservation Fund, which supports the safeguarding of cultural heritage wherever it may be under attack.
The Unite4Heritage Campaign reaches millions of people every week (8.8 million in the week of 1-7 Oct), of which a significant majority are young people.
• The #Unite4Heritage photo & story contest received more than 10,000 entries across Instagram and Facebook with a huge amount of positive feedback and encouragement, including photos from groups of young people in Syria supporting the campaign.
• The Unite4Heritage / World Heritage Volunteers Common Action is sending 7 or so young people from the Arab region. These are currently being interviewed to create a series of social media pieces and a major feature story to inspire other young people.
• Young people are integrated into all UNESCO Field Office activities, for example in Amman where a team of 15 young volunteers has been brought together to contribute to initiatives and support the campaign. Across the region, student groups are invited to participate in all events alongside experts and dignitaries.
• Cooperation with NET-MED Youth Project is creating a photo exhibit in Tunis to engage young people in the streets of the city, and it is hoped this will eventually travel around the wider region.
Launched in March 2015, the #Unite4Heritage campaign has reached millions of people in its efforts to raise awareness of the need to safeguard and celebrate cultural heritage and diversity, and provide an alternative narrative to the violent propaganda of extremists. The intersectoral approach takes advantage of new technologies and brings together UNESCO’s expertise in Culture, Communications and Youth issues, combined with the critical on-the-ground reach of Field Offices. The event will present an insight into UNESCO’s activities related to the safeguarding of cultural heritage now and in the future.