East Africa participates in regional workshop on underwater cultural heritage
East African participants took part in an online regional workshop on the implementation of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage organized by UNESCO Windhoek (Namibia) on 10-11 March 2021. The meeting addressed various issues including: implementation of the 2001 Convention, inventorying of sites, as well as cooperation at regional and national levels, in line with the objectives of the 2001 Convention and with SDG 14, which aim to integrate the ocean history and underwater cultural heritage into global efforts for conservation and sustainable use of the ocean.
The workshop brought together over 55 stakeholders, including regional and international experts on underwater cultural heritage, to increase awareness of the urgency of protecting underwater cultural heritage in the Africa region. Speakers included representatives of national authorities, leading archaeologists, senior cultural heritage experts, historians and conservators from the African region. Notably, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Coordinator in Africa, Mr. Mika Odido moderated a roundtable discussion on international cooperation opportunities in underwater archaeology and the UN Ocean Science Decade.
The workshop contributed to UNESCO’s continued efforts to improve Member States’ capacities in protecting their submerged heritage, such as shipwrecks and sunken structures. The convening of the meeting successfully increased awareness of the 2001 Convention and improved collaboration at national and regional level to ensure strengthened protection of underwater cultural heritage in Africa. Later this year, many of the participants will also take part in a series of online and physical workshops, organized by UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa as part of the Japan-funded project for capacity building in the protection of underwater cultural heritage in Africa.