Ethiopian Culture and Environment Ministries strengthen synergies for World Heritage protection
UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre in Paris and the Ethiopian National Commission for UNESCO organized a national training workshop on “Enhancing the Implementation Capacity of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in Ethiopia,” which took place from 3 to 5 August 2021 in Adama Town, Ethiopia. The workshop, financed by the Government of China Funds for Capacity Building and Cooperation for World Heritage sites in Africa, brought together more than 40 participants from different Ministries, Non-Governmental institutions and stakeholders in order to strengthen their synergies for the protection and promotion of World Heritage sites in Ethiopia.
The opening remarks, delivered by Mr Workeneh Aklilu on behalf of H.E. Dr Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Sport (MoCTS), stated that, ‘’This workshop is an important step to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and to create an opportunity to tap into the advantages that our cultural and natural heritage can offer towards sustainable development and peacebuilding in Ethiopia.” H.E. Mrs Bizunesh Meseret, the State Minister of MoCTS also expressed the need to have a strong Ethiopian National Commission for UNESCO in order to maximize the benefit from heritage resources and enhance collaboration among Ethiopian stakeholders and UNESCO.
Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director and Representative of UNESCO Addis Ababa Liaison Office, in her welcoming remarks noted that, “With nine World Heritage sites, Ethiopia is rich in outstanding cultural and natural heritages. The diversity of the Ethiopian heritage is essential and can be a foundation for growth, innovation and living in peace.” She further expressed that the workshop is an opportunity to create an Ethiopian National Heritage Committee (ENHC) that brings together both natural and cultural World Heritage stakeholders to compliment and implement national strategies and action plans.
H.E. Dr Tilaye Gete, from the Permanent Delegation of Ethiopia to UNESCO gave a presentation on UNESCO and its role in peacebuilding processes through Education, Science, Culture, Communication, Social and Human Sciences. Mr Girma Timer and Ms Tsehay Eshetie, representing natural and cultural sites respectively, gave presentations on the Ethiopian perspective of site management and protection with examples of the World Heritage Committee Decisions concerning factors affecting the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of Ethiopia’s World Heritage sites. They also provided examples of successful implementation of World Heritage Committee Decisions on conservation and governance especially addressing threats that could lead to Danger listing of the properties.
“In this respect, balancing heritage conservation and development needs is one of the most challenging tasks for World Heritage conservation in Africa,” said Ms. Enathe Hasabwamariya, Associate Programme Specialist in the Africa Unit of the World Heritage Centre. She shared information on resources developed by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to support management effectiveness, including monitoring and evaluation of OUV, as well as existing mechanisms that can support the protection of World Heritage properties, such as technical advice from Advisory Bodies and financial support from the World Heritage Fund (International Assistance).”
Mr. Muhammad Juma Muhammad, Chief of the Africa Unit of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, highlighted that, “there is urgency for African States Parties to integrate World Heritage in their agenda for national development and the importance of having a high-level National Committee or Board, which will bring together both cultural and natural heritage institutions to discuss issues affecting the country’s World Heritage sites”.
The workshop was facilitated by a UNESCO consultant from the United Republic of Tanzania, Mr. Donatius Kamamba, who led the participants through important steps in the establishment of Ethiopian National Heritage Committee. He also offered suggestions for decision makers regarding the composition, functions and status of a national World Heritage Committee.
Participants agreed that Ethiopia’s National World Heritage Committee should aim to strengthen the management and protection of heritage sites in Ethiopia, update nomination files for natural and cultural sites, follow-up on requirements for World Heritage management, and ensure implementation of decisions by the World Heritage Committee concerning conservation and protection of OUV of the sites as well as increasing stakeholders and community participation and empowerment for sustainable development.