The First UNESCO-led China-Germany Cultural Exchange “Heritage Conservation for Sustainable Development”


26-30 September 2018, Berlin, Germany – “Culture plays a crucial role in sustainable development. Yet integrating various aspects of culture is not an easy task. It calls for strong multi-stakeholder partnership across fields of expertise and across national boundaries,” said Dr. Jing Feng, Chief of the Asia-Pacific Unit of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, at the workshop “Heritage Conservation for Sustainable Development” during the first ever UNESCO-led China-Germany cultural exchange.

Organized by UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office and hosted by the Institute for Heritage Management, with the support of the German National Commission for UNESCO, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, German Ministry of Culture, and the German National Committee for Monument Protection, this exchange aims to facilitate effective exchange and communication for policy makers, experts, and practitioners from China, Germany, and possibly other countries, to engage in sharing good practices in heritage protection for sustainable development.

A Chinese delegation consists of representatives from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, State Administration of Cultural Heritage, Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, Chinese Academy of Cultural Heritage, and heritage experts, World Heritage site representatives, Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) bearers participated in this exchange.

The concepts of “World Heritage”, “Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)” and “diversity of cultural expressions” created by UNESCO have made an enormous contribution in raising public awareness and promoting actions in the field of culture. Their success is reflected in the 1092 World Heritage sites, 470 ICH, and a thriving cultural sector accounting for 6.1% of the global economy and generating annual revenues of 2,250 billion US dollars and nearly 30 million jobs worldwide.

Since 2017, UNESCO Beijing Cluster Office has been exploring the synergy of World Heritage conservation, ICH transmission, and fostering cultural creativity for the sustainable development of World Heritage sites, via multi-stakeholder partnership. One of the successful examples is the UNESCO - China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund Funds-in-Trust Project on “Conservation and Management of World Heritage sites in China”. As one of the outcome of the Project, this exchange highlights the long-term and fruitful partnership between UNESCO and Mercedes-Benz, and is expected to inspire more cooperation in the field of culture between Chinese and German government counterparts, universities and academies, as well as between sites.

“China has always been actively participated in UNESCO’s major programmes and projects. And this workshop has provided a great platform for us to connect with the German National Commission for UNESCO and other partners. We will continue to strengthen the cooperation with UNESCO and the National Commission for UNESCO of other UNESCO Member States,” stressed Qiao Zhengshun, Consultant of the Science and Culture Sector of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO.

Dr. Lutz Moller, Deputy Secretary-General of the German National Commission for UNESCO, also highlighted that, “German and China has all-round cooperation. In the future, we can strengthen our cooperation on cultural exchange in terms of UNESCO’s professional fields.”

During the five-day exchange, the delegation exchanged with the Berlin Monument Protection Office on World Heritage management practices, and engaged in discussions with representatives from the Federal Commission for Cultural and Media Affairs, as well as with the UNESCO Chair and students in the World Heritage Studies Programme at the Brandenburg University of Technology. In the meantime, the group also visited various UNESCO designates sites including the Museum Island, Palaces and Parks of Potsdam, and Spreewald Man and Biosphere Reserve, as well as the Berlin “City of Design” UNESCO Creative Cities Network, and also discussed with German counterparts on heritage conservation, creativity and sustainable development. The exchange also consisted of a one-day workshop on “Heritage Conservation for Sustainable Development”, in which Mr. Chen Ping, Counselor for Culture of the Chinese Embassy in Germany, delivered an opening speech.

It is hoped that this UNESCO China-Germany cultural exchange activity, along with other pilot activities within the project framework of “Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China”, could inspire new reflections and partnerships on culture as an enabler of sustainable development, and generate a pool of good experience and best practice for the benefit of a wider international public.