Globalisation and the information society are radically changing the way we produce, consume, communicate with others and live our daily lives. Many of our local, regional and national traditions (music, song, dance, festivals, rituals, farming practices, cuisine, dialects, etc.) are disappearing; little by little, age-old occupations, craft activities and the corresponding skills and know-how are being lost.
The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage acknowledges the serious threats of deterioration, disappearance and destruction hanging over the intangible cultural heritage. Almost all countries in Europe have ratified this Convention and have undertaken to co-operate at regional level to counter these threats. Nonetheless, the practical action taken is limited and unco-ordinated.
The Council of Europe and its member States must work together to safeguard Europe’s intangible cultural heritage, an integral part of our cultural heritage of which there are only very few aspects we are familiar with. It is essential that we act to ensure that a part of our historical memory and our identity is not lost for ever.
IT opens up new possibilities for preserving, promoting and sharing our intangible cultural heritage. In this connection, under the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (the Faro Convention), Parties undertake to develop the use of digital techniques to improve access to cultural heritage. This must be done in a considered and systematic way, also bearing in mind that the digital heritage constituted as a result must itself be afforded protection.
The Parliamentary Assembly should promote the creation of a European Intangible Heritage Forum, the framing of national strategies to preserve this heritage in digital format, and the exchange of best practices for its enhancement and its use for educational purposes.