Lebanon, a signatory of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in 2007, has undertaken recently a needs assessment on the situation of institutional capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the context of the development of a sectoral cultural policy for the safeguarding of ICH. This assessment has shown that community-based approaches to safeguarding are not yet systematic and more support is needed to build a methodology and capacity in this area to develop community-based inventories of different intangible cultural heritage in Lebanon. Similarly there is a need to build capacity for the elaboration of effective and practical safeguarding plans.
Against this backdrop, UNESCO Beirut launched the project “Strengthening capacities for the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Lebanon”. Funded by Japan Fund In Trust, the project is designed primarily to strengthen the human and institutional resources involved in the safeguarding of ICH, and comprises a series of training activities and workshops bringing together key actors involved in ICH.
In this context, UNESCO Beirut, in partnership with the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO, organized on 27-29 February 2020 a capacity-building workshop on the preparation of nominations for the lists of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, at Grand Hills Hotel in Broumana. The workshop brought together 25 participants from various backgrounds: representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO and civil society and community bearers, who have been involved in the trainings on the community-based inventorying and the training of elaboration of the safeguarding plans.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Joe Kreidi, UNESCO Beirut’s Programme Specialist for Culture, spoke of the importance UNESCO devotes to raising awareness on the value of heritage and the necessity of safeguarding it. Kreidi said: “UNESCO is committed to raise awareness on heritage because heritage is identity. When we safeguard our heritage, we also safeguard our culture and identity”. He added: “Understanding the notions and concepts of the 2003 Convention is sometimes challenging, whether for government institutions or communities, hence the need for this workshop which builds the capacity of actors to understand the mechanisms of the safeguarding of ICH”.
The first part of the training was dedicated to introducing participants to the 2003 Convention and developing their skills to participate in the preparation of nomination files for the Representative List and the Urgent Safeguarding List. The second part of the training aimed to build capacities of participants to make use of the International Assistance mechanisms under the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund by preparing requests that can reliably be expected to lead to successful projects for safeguarding ICH.
The sessions, structured around experts’ presentations and interactive discussions, provided a platform for participants to share experiences and to network with each other.