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Safeguarding and enhancing intangible cultural heritage in Europe

Report | Doc. 14832 | 15 February 2019

Committee
Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media
Rapporteur :
Mr Andries GRYFFROY, Belgium, NR
Origin
Reference to committee: Doc. 14041, Reference 4215 of 20 June 2016. 2019 - March Standing Committee

Summary

According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage includes traditions or living expressions inherited from the past, such as performing arts, social practices, oral traditions, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

While on the one hand industrialisation, urban development, mass tourism, the standardisation of lifestyles in towns and villages, and of the various forms of knowledge and skills all constitute a context which places the intangible cultural heritage in a vulnerable position, the idea is not to shield the intangible cultural heritage and rigidly entrench age-old practices, but rather to enable them to develop and evolve with the times, and to encourage practices that are vitally embedded in contemporary society and which are flourishing in interaction with other cultures.

Recalling both the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, the report draws up recommendations concerning policy design and implementation at national and local levels and urges for a greater coherency of action between the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the European Union in this area.

A Draft resolutionNote

1. The Parliamentary Assembly recognises the importance of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH), which includes traditions or living expressions inherited from the past, such as performing arts, social practices, oral traditions, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.
2. Industrialisation, urban development, the expansion of mass tourism, the standardisation of lifestyles in towns and villages, and of the various forms of knowledge and skills, all constitute a context which places ICH in a vulnerable position. However, intangible cultural heritage is a “living heritage” and the idea is not to preserve rigidly entrenched age-old practices, but rather to enable them to develop and evolve with the times, and to encourage practices that are embedded in contemporary society and interact with other cultures.
3. In this respect, the Assembly welcomes a wide ratification of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (“ICH Convention”) and recalls that the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (CETS No. 199, “Faro Convention”) promotes a broader understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society, and defines an all-embracing framework which is necessary to ensure that cultural heritage and culture in general have their rightful place at the centre of a new vision for sustainable development.
4. Both conventions rightfully emphasise the idea of the widest possible participation of the communities, groups and individuals concerned. The Council of Europe Cultural Routes Programme promotes in practice this participatory approach through its 33 certified Cultural Routes, which integrate both tangible and intangible components of cultural heritage. The Assembly considers however that models and methods of participatory governance are needed to address the challenge of setting up fair and feasible heritage community participation. Moreover, it calls for a certain flexibility in managing ICH and highlights a set of 12 ethical principles which were adopted in 2016 to complement the ICH Convention, addressing the fragile balance between the respect for the autonomy of communities, groups and individuals concerned and providing an adequate public support framework to intervene in the safeguarding of ICH.
5. The Assembly therefore recommends that the member States of the Council of Europe:
5.1 concerning strategy and policy design:
5.1.1 sign and ratify the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, if they have not yet done so, and develop national strategies for safeguarding and enhancing the role of ICH according to the principles laid down in these conventions;
5.1.2 join the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, if they have not yet done so, and make best use of the collaborative platform that the Agreement offers to implement and co-ordinate local and regional ICH projects in a wider European context;
5.1.3 recognise the influence that intangible cultural heritage can have on society and the economy, fostering the sense of belonging and well-being of people, underpinning the cultural and creative sectors, and offering a playing field for the micro-economy with small and medium-sized enterprises from local communities;
5.1.4 closely associate the vision on safeguarding of ICH with sustainable development policies (including urban and rural planning, redevelopment and rehabilitation projects) as well as with their policies on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
5.1.5 develop new and creative approaches to minimise the negative impacts of urbanisation on ICH while maximising the potential of ICH to contribute to a more cohesive society, for example as a factor which could help migrants build bridges with local communities;
5.1.6 identify and analyse the conditions within which traditional craftsmanship exists, to assess relative degrees of endangerment and to determine the future importance of traditional craftsmanship in terms of cultural policy and the economy;
5.1.7 value ICH as a significant resource for traditional knowledge and know-how regarding the sustainable management of the natural environment; for example initiatives on food traditions that build on local community farming and production and can become a laboratory of civil society engagement for more sustainable ways of producing and consuming;
5.1.8 consider the contribution that ICH can make to sustainable health and well-being, as part of a call in Europe for more locally grounded and culturally sensitive approaches to health;
5.2 concerning policy implementation:
5.2.1 create collaborative and participatory platforms to establish inventories of ICH; in this regard, develop models and methods of participatory governance to address the challenge of setting up fair and feasible heritage community participation;
5.2.2 stimulate transmission of ICH through lifelong learning and education;
5.2.3 foster and support urban, local and regional development projects and strategies, and micro-economy, creative economy and sustainable tourism initiatives that would integrate sustainable safeguarding and enhancement of ICH in close co-operation with the communities concerned;
5.2.4 provide incentives and funding for multi-stakeholder co-operation projects and effective platforms for sharing expertise and experience; in this context, provide training and incentives for local ICH actors as well as ICH mediators to enhance co-operation;
5.2.5 promote closer links between tangible and intangible heritage in order to bring many actors closer together and to provide available expertise and infrastructure in the field of tangible heritage; such partnerships, however, require a certain degree of flexibility;
5.2.6 review legislation if necessary, to provide a more flexible framework for safeguarding and enhancing ICH to accommodate the informal nature of grassroots initiatives;
5.2.7 ensure wider integration of ICH in the projects that are part of the Council of Europe Cultural Routes Programme.
6. The Assembly invites UNESCO and the European Union to co-operate with the Council of Europe in supporting the effective implementation of the ICH Convention and the Faro Convention, and in particular to:
6.1 facilitate building capacities through: gathering and exchanging insights from ICH safeguarding and enhancement practices and methods; cross-disciplinary co-operation; educational programmes; alignment in digital strategies; ethics; and cross-border co-operation on common ICH elements or safeguarding programmes;
6.2 accommodate digital methods and tools for ICH inventories and for safeguarding practices, so that they could be harmonised in Europe (technically and methodologically) to further stimulate exchange and knowledge sharing;
6.3 seek to resolve questions of ownership and intellectual property rights to provide open data within digital documentation and transmission of ICH.
7. More specifically, the Parliamentary Assembly invites the European Union to:
7.1 integrate ICH policy action into the announced 2020 #Digital4Culture strategy, using the digital potential to enhance the positive economic and societal effects of culture;
7.2 include ICH in the European Research Strategy and the European Union Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020);
7.3 include safeguarding and enhancing ICH in calls, criteria and support measures for European cultural projects and territorial co-operation (Creative Europe; Interreg);
7.4 collaborate with the Council of Europe to implement ICH related initiatives within the Cultural Routes Programme;
7.5 promote ICH in the European Capitals of Culture Programme;
7.6 explore integration of ICH scope into the European Heritage Days, by moving beyond the classic open door/monument days and by embracing the intangible heritage actors and perspectives.

B Draft recommendationNote

1. The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution … (2019) on safeguarding and enhancing intangible cultural heritage in Europe, recalls that culture and heritage play a fundamental role in upholding democratic values and building citizenship. They imbed cultural identity, deepen understanding and respect for others, and nurture respect for cultural diversity.
2. The large influx of migrants in Europe has decisively altered the ethnic composition of major cities, and consequently redefines the notion of community and also of intangible cultural heritage. In order to deal with this challenge, the Assembly believes that intangible cultural heritage (ICH) could offer people not only a sense of continuity but also the resilience and positive dynamics to adapt to a rapidly growing cultural diversity.
3. The Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (CETS No. 199, “Faro Convention”) and the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century (Strategy 21) set an excellent framework for cultural heritage preservation policies in Europe. In this context, the Assembly considers that the future development of ICH would require developing a policy vision based on these documents, in order to enhance ICH policies and measures to their full potential, and to provide guidance to the multiple actors that are emerging across Europe and are committed to safeguarding ICH.
4. The Assembly urges for greater coherency of action between the Council of Europe, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the European Union in this area. Accordingly, the Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers instruct the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe to:
4.1 encourage integrated activities between the culture, heritage, education and youth sectors of the Council of Europe, where possible, to provide guidance to the member States on innovative ways of interlinking intangible cultural heritage with the process of building democratic citizenship, including through heritage communities;
4.2 provide support for member States to exchange good practices based on the standards and principles of the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society and guidance to develop models and methods of participatory governance to address the challenge of setting up fair and feasible heritage community participation;
4.3 acknowledge that ICH safeguarding targets and competences are covered implicitly by the terms of reference of the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP) and consider close co-operation UNESCO and the European Union in this institutional framework;
4.4 integrate the safeguarding of ICH in existing activities, and in particular in the Cultural Routes Programme and in the European Heritage Days, seeking active participation of local ICH actors;
4.5 contribute, where possible, to monitoring efforts in Europe in alignment with the Overall Results Framework established for the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2018, with a view to possibly integrating this work into the Council of Europe Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe and into HEREIN, the European Cultural Heritage Information Network.

C Explanatory memorandum by Mr Andries Gryffroy, rapporteur

1 Introduction: intangible cultural heritage as a “living heritage”

1. The motion which prompted this report (Doc. 14041) states that “[g]lobalisation 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”.
2. My report builds however on a “positive” vision of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as a “living heritage”, which – as the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (“ICH Convention”) states in its definition (Article 2) – concerns practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills “transmitted from generation to generation, and constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history”.
3. Obviously, this is the inherent potency and resilience of ICH, but it entails also the continuous fragility of ICH being subject to so many variables. Industrialisation, urban development, the expansion of mass tourism, the standardisation of lifestyles in towns and villages, and of the various forms of knowledge and skills all constitute a context which places the intangible cultural heritage in a vulnerable position. This is why I am convinced of the importance of exploring the diverse forms of partnerships between those involved in its safeguarding and also of looking at the way in which they pursue their action together at local, national and international level, to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage in a viable manner.
4. The idea is not to shield the intangible cultural heritage and rigidly entrench age-old practices, but rather to enable them to develop and evolve with the times, and to encourage actual practices that are vitally embedded in contemporary society and are flourishing in interaction with other cultures.
5. According to the ICH Convention, these living heritage practices manifest themselves, among others, in the following domains: oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of the areas constituting the intangible cultural heritage. Each country is free to choose the areas, including additional ones, such as traditional sports, cuisine or healing practices.
6. The Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (CETS No. 199, “Faro Convention”) of 2005 emphasises the important aspects of heritage as it relates to human rights and democracy. It recognises that cultural heritage is valuable for its own sake and for the contribution it can make to other policies. The Convention promotes a wider understanding of heritage and its relationship to communities and society, and defines an all-embracing framework which is necessary to ensure that cultural heritage and culture in general have their rightful place at the centre of a new vision for sustainable development.
7. In particular, the Faro Convention highlights the growing importance of cultural heritage relative to:
  • sustainable development: cultural heritage is seen as a precious resource in the integration of the different dimensions of development – cultural, ecological, economic, social and political;
  • globalisation: cultural heritage is a resource for the protection of cultural diversity and a sense of belonging (putting down roots) in the face of growing standardisation;
  • renewed awareness of the cultural identity dimension in conflicts: cultural heritage is a resource through which to develop dialogue, democratic debate and openness between cultures.
8. Indeed, intangible cultural heritage cross-cuts all domains of society with its cultural, ecological, economic, social and political dimensions. For example, it can be closely associated: to income generation and tourism for sustaining livelihoods and inclusive economic development; to water and energy management, to food security, to health care and quality education for all (as part of an inclusive social development); to environmental sustainability through stronger community-based resilience to natural disasters and climate change; and also to the peace and security dimension of sustainable development through prevention of disputes and post-conflict resolution.Note
9. In the following chapters, I therefore propose to consider intangible cultural heritage from different angles. Chapter 2 will consider intangible cultural heritage as an integral part of sustainable development, both in the urban and rural context. Chapter 3 focuses on ICH in the context of cultural diversity, which is a key issue for the Council of Europe having direct impact on the democratic stability of our continent. Transmission of intangible cultural heritage between generations is fundamental to preserving ICH since many traditions and knowledge would otherwise disappear; therefore, Chapter 4 considers how best to pass on this knowledge and know-how through different forms of education and vocational training. Chapter 5 focuses on impacts of new technologies and digital society on ICH, both positive and negative. In terms of processes and governance (and in line with both the ICH Convention and the Faro Convention), Chapter 6 highlights the importance of facilitating a “bottom- up” approach, by providing examples of grassroots involvement and participation. Finally, the last chapter proposes some policy guidelines and concrete measures that could be implemented at State and European level.
10. I wish to thank Ms Jorijn Neyrinck, independent expert for intangible cultural heritage in Belgium, who contributed with her knowledge and field experience to preparing this report. I also wish to thank all the other experts who participated in our committee meetings and those whom I met during the two fact-finding visits in Croatia (July 2018) and in Georgia (September 2018). Their strong commitment, enthusiasm, experience and many interesting thoughts nourish this report.

2 Intangible cultural heritage from a sustainable development perspective

11. Since the adoption, in 2015, of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Europe spoke with a strong voice to consider culture as a 4th pillar of sustainable development.Note Moreover, a new chapter was added to the Operational Directives of the 2003 Convention in 2016, elaborating on safeguarding ICH and sustainable development.Note It shows a clear link with the UN Agenda 2030 and can provide inspiration. We would therefore need monitoring and evidence-gathering in Europe to provide a convincing input for the (future) Agenda 2045 in which culture, including intangible heritage, can be one of the key elements.

2.1 ICH in an increasingly urbanised society

12. Almost three quarters of the European population live in urban areas and this is foreseen to rise to over 80% by 2050.Note Rural-to-urban migration has obviously a growing impact on ICH and it would be necessary to develop new and creative approaches towards safeguarding ICH in order to minimise the negative impacts of urbanisation while maximising the potential of ICH to contribute to a more cohesive society. For example ICH has the potential to help migrants build bridges with other communities. ICH can also equip rural-to-urban migrants with the tools to enhance their quality of life in urban settings.Note
13. The recent UN New Urban Agenda – Habitat IIINote highlights the role of ICH in urban sustainable development. In this context, the European Union calls on member States to enhance the role of cultural heritage within sustainable development, focusing on urban and rural planning, redevelopment and rehabilitation projects.Note
14. ICH remains nevertheless very productive for rural development and renewal through cultural, social, economic and environmental development. For example, ICH contributes to sustaining rural traditional skills, knowledge and identities that are grounded in the local area.
15. Moreover, urban and rural ICH dynamics are interdependent and they overlap in many ways, largely owing to increasing mobility of people, wide access to media, sustainable tourism and economic initiatives, etc. For example, people regularly travel to the countryside to spend holidays “back home”, to celebrate family bonds, and/or to (re)connect with ritual and festive events, enjoying the experience of local traditions, crafts and cuisine in a rural environment; and vice versa, culturally diverse rural food traditions, rituals and festivities find their way into urban life and neighbourhoods.
16. This illustrates the influence that cultural heritage can have on society and the economy, fostering a sense of belonging and well-being, underpinning the cultural and creative sectors, and offering a playing field for the micro-economy with small and medium-sized enterprises from local communities.

2.2 ICH in sustainable economies and tourism

17. Handicrafts are an important ICH element for the micro-economy and the local economy. Traditional knowledge and skills can indeed inspire innovation, be enhanced where appropriate by new technologies, and contribute to sustainable development.
18. The programme Handmade in BruggeNote delivers a convincing experiment. Being a World Heritage city, Bruges offers an interesting case of a city which applies stringent heritage management while having to face mass tourism pressures. For centuries, the city flourished with high-skilled craftspeople and workshops, but this has gone through a steep decline in recent years owing to the consequences of large-scale production and distribution, mass tourism and high real estate prices. A coalition of local partners then launched the Handmade in Brugge programme which combines ICH safeguarding approaches with an urban integrated policy agenda which interlocks local economy, tourism, education, cultural policy and sustainable development. The programme connects a diversity of actors in the city, including individual craftspeople, local associations of entrepreneurs, the cultural sector and the City Council. Various initiatives are provided to encourage and support local craftspeople, with room for experimentation and contemporary approaches which link the past with the present and the future.
19. The case of the Gondola manufacture in Venice is another enchanting experience combining crafts and sustainable tourism.Note Collaboration grew from trying to find solutions and methods to safeguard the arts and crafts of the Laguna. It gathered a cluster of legal experts, anthropologists, cultural economists and associations of crafts for making gondolas, Murano glass and Burano lace, as well as political and administrative actors. They tried to find a solution, inspired by the Faro Convention, and decided to cultivate a “heritage community” in Venice as part of a wider “Venetian community”. This initiative led to creating a register for the identification and monitoring of heritage items. Most importantly, it was crucial to steer away from attempts for individual candidatures for each craft or practice, and to think in terms of a bigger safeguarding plan for crafts of the Laguna.
20. Several publications on ICH and crafts in Europe may feed our reflection and policy orientation. In Austria, a study surveyed the state of traditional craftsmanship.Note It seeks to define and analyse the parameters within which traditional craftsmanship exists, to assess relative degrees of endangerment and to determine the future importance of traditional craftsmanship in terms of cultural policy and the economy. The online publication “Future for crafts”Note is a guidebook as well as an inspiration for policy and craft-related activities that can make crafts viable in the future and more visible (future-proof). It offers a wide range of insights and practical tips and tricks for policy makers, craftsmen, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that are active with respect to craftsmanship and are being confronted with the current modern-day challenges.

2.3 Connecting food traditions and culinary heritage to sustainability

21. Initiatives on food traditions and sustainability are trending all over Europe and seem to have become a lab of civil society engagement for more sustainable ways of producing and consuming. There is a recent and quite impressive rise in short food supply chain initiatives, building mostly on local community farming and production. These initiatives very often seek ways to (re)connect with local food traditions and identities. They show the strong interest people have for more sustainable ways of producing and consuming while at the same time valuing the richness and wisdom to be found in regional cuisine and its heritage experience.
22. In Georgia for example, the traditional techniques of making ancient Pshavian food “Dambalkhacho” (soaked cottage cheese)Note were inscribed on the national ICH protection list in 2014. The technique was revived thanks to the initiative of Soso Rigishvili’s family in Tianeti Municipality. With the help of a State grant, the family expanded the production and with 10 or 12 other families they now regularly supply the Tbilisi shopping malls. As a national product, Dambalkhacho actively participates in the cheese festival and various exhibition-sales of national products. The Georgian Agricultural Research Center is intensively studying the product, working on its standard, production rules, composition and technology to prepare the product for commercialisation throughout Georgia.
23. Similarly, different projects of urban and community gardening are popping up in city contexts, just like the various local markets offering traditional products, or micro-breweries using traditional recipes, traditional bakeries, cuisine du terroir, etc. Specific heritage projects are now devoted to these topics, such as AlpFoodway: a cross-border project being set up in the Alps documenting in a cross-disciplinary way the Alpine food cultural heritage (benefiting from support from the Interreg project).Note

2.4 ICH, sustainable health and well-being

24. ICH can provide an important contribution to sustainable health and well-being; this is an emerging field. In this respect, the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO) is collaborating with UNESCO to explore crossovers with ICH, in response to a call in Europe for more locally grounded and culturally sensitive approaches to health.Note
25. In Greece, for example, childhood obesity is worryingly high. The increase in obesity resulted from unhealthy food habits and difficult living conditions which were a direct result of harsh economic circumstances in the country. Ancient healthy and balanced food traditions based on a Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fruit and vegetables are being lost in favour of cheaper food solutions – often rich in fats and sugars. Research is therefore conducted on ways to foster healthy food habits, by reconnecting to the food heritage of the living environment.

2.5 ICH and sustainable management of the natural environment

26. ICH is also a significant resource for traditional knowledge and know-how regarding the sustainable management of the surrounding natural environment. In Catalonia (Spain), the safeguarding of ICH has aroused the interest of managers of natural protected areas. They consider the traditional knowledge and practices related to nature fundamental both for the preservation of the environment and for the continuity of local traditional practices. The pioneering project at the Montseny Natural Park and Biosphere ReserveNote has been followed in 2017 and 2018 by an inventory by the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park. The involvement of an interdisciplinary team (anthropologists, environmental scientists, historians and others) has been crucial to identify, document and enhance ICH practices in this field.

3 ICH in the context of a culturally diverse society

27. The large influx of migrants in Western Europe has decisively altered the ethnic composition of all the major cities. It redefines the notion of community and thus also of intangible heritage. The examples below show that ICH can indeed become a constant source for shaping vivid and cohesive sustainable cities and communities. It can offer people a sense of continuity but also the resilience and dynamics to adapt to a rapidly growing cultural diversity.
28. In Finland, a Wiki-inventory for Living Heritage was launched on the internet in 2016. It offers different communities an opportunity to present their own ICH. The platform has become an avenue of expression for many heritage communities and groups, opening eyes to the diversity in the country. Among the first entries on the Wiki were the Romani song tradition, Sami handicrafts, the minuet tradition in Finland’s Swedish-speaking community and African dance and music in Finnish African communities. Cultural diversity has been an issue that the National Board of Antiquities has stressed in the work with the Convention right from the start. Close co-operation with NGOs and institutions working with minorities has been a key issue along the way, facilitating the process of inclusive ICH policies.
29. In Georgia, ICH-related workshops and training are regularly held with both minority and diaspora communities. An interesting project “We illustrate the World Fairy Tales” was implemented with high school students (from Azerbaijan, Armenian and Russian public schools; from Polish and the Ukraine Diasporas educational centers) where they created and freely illustrated their native fairy tales. The Georgian National Agency for Cultural Heritage PreservationNote published this collection in five minority languages and in Georgian translation as well.
30. In Rotterdam, ethnic or religious festivals such as Diwali, Keti Koti and the Chinese New Year have evolved into communal festivals shared by all. This happens through the interplay of different stakeholders in a dynamic, culturally diversified environment and a shared urban space. At the same time, in the super-diverse city district of West-Kruiskade in Rotterdam, new forms of social belonging appear in which the diversity of intangible heritage is celebrated as something to share.
31. The Mechelse Ommegang is a large scale procession taking place in the Belgian city of Mechelen, once every 25 years. Being an important social event and symbol for the city, this represented a challenge for the youngest “Ommegang” in 2013, since the local population had changed and diversified over the past quarter of a century. Various participative actions and projects were organised to involve new inhabitants and as a result the giants were modified to reflect the current cultural diversity. The traditional giants’ song was transformed into a rap song. Information leaflets were distributed explaining the tradition to people and educational activities were set up for the young. The Heritage Cell Mechelen acted as a key mediator for these heritage safeguarding efforts and cultural dialogue.
32. Every year in September, the Tocatì Festival fills the centre of Verona with a programme full of events and street games. The city centre dazzles with traditional music, dances and games, activities for children and, of course, delicious local food. The Tocatì Festival, organised by Associazione Giochi Antichi, pays particular attention to traditional games, especially those linked to local history. Games are most often handed down from one generation to another. At the same time, it is the annual meeting of a network of traditional games and sports associations from across Europe. Visitors are also encouraged to take part in the games.

4 Transmission of ICH through lifelong learning and education

33. Intangible heritage is all about passing on “embodied knowledge”. This knowledge and know-how is contained in the bodies, heads and hands of people. The craftsman, the storyteller, the dancer, etc., they all inherited and handed down skills, knowledge and know-how to new generations of practitioners, young or old, from here or elsewhere. Hence, “learning” is core and omnipresent in ICH, and it is lifelong. Transmission of the ICH practice, skills and know-how is the first and foremost objective, if we want to succeed in safeguarding and enhancing ICH.
34. European Strategy 21 is devoted to learning heritage and traditional skills, crafts and know-how. The UN 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 on “quality education and lifelong learning”) highlights the importance of access to vocational learning. Within the Overall Results Framework for the ICH Convention, there is a thematic area devoted to “transmission and education” which mobilises and defines objectives and indicators to monitor the impact of the Convention in this area.
35. Several ICH domains are directly linked to post-secondary education such as technical and vocational training; and many traditional occupations, knowledge and apprentice systems provide effective examples of developing technical and vocational skills.
36. For example, a learning system in France consists of the compagnonnage (partnership), which is a unique teaching method for transferring craft-related knowledge and skills. The national training is a combination of initiation rituals, formal instruction and an educational “Tour de France”. The instruction can start for young people aged 16 and lasts on average for five years. At the end of the training, they take a master. The system of the compagnonnage, as a network of transmission, in which some 45 000 people are involved in France, has been registered since 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.Note
37. Sharing and transmission of ICH has always been the core of the work of The Storytelling Network of Kronoberg. Passionate about their work with youth, they have educational programmes which span from eight-month modules to university courses. The activities aim to raise awareness about storytelling and transmitting the art but are also used as a tool to reach the goal of the curriculum itself. In addition, they can contribute to solving problems associated with dyslexia, bullying, or special needs of immigrant children – to help them improve their knowledge of the Swedish language and ways of life and using stories to connect people in their diversity. As a result, children and young people realise that we often share the same stories as a “common” intangible cultural heritage.
38. In Finland, ICH and education webpageNote was launched on the occasion of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, especially targeted for schools. An educational tool was put together about ICH in Finland, but also at European level, with links to inventories across the world, video links, discussion cards, etc.

5 Intangible cultural heritage and digital society

39. The digital revolution is profoundly affecting our cultural experience, not only in terms of new technology-based access, production and dissemination, but also in terms of participation and creation, and learning and partaking in a knowledgeable society.Note Digital media have become powerful forums for managing, expressing, sharing and exchanging content and contacts on safeguarding and enhancing ICH.
40. We should take account of the rich and new possibilities offered by the information technologies to preserve, enhance and share ICH. In this respect, the Faro Convention invites Parties to “develop the use of digital technology”, for example, web inventories, virtual visits and the use of 3D technologies. These techniques should make it possible “to enhance access to cultural heritage and the benefits which derive from it” (Article 14). Also Strategy 21 recommendation S7 promotes collaborative platforms for making inventories. Since making participatory inventories is one of the obligations for States Parties to the ICH Convention, incentives should be provided to accommodate digital methods and platforms on inventorying ICH and safeguarding practices in Europe.
41. In terms of digital inventories, a European funded i-treasures.eu project experiments with ICT-based documenting and transmitting to apprentices rare know-how and skills from Living Human Treasures; it proposes novel methodologies and new technological paradigms based on multisensory technology. Other examples would be the efforts of Memoriamedia.net to map e-inventories of ICHNote and the multi-actor network co-operation which has been growing around the participatory digital inventorying of ICH.
42. However, digitisation is not free of challenges for ICH. The Council of Europe has already pointed out the risks to European cultural diversity and the need for adequate conditions for cultural content in the digital age. How can practitioners, groups and communities cope with disruptive effects and considerable transformations in ICH practices as a result of the digital revolution? In this respect, we can take as examples crafts versus 3D-printing, or new virtual communities being spread worldwide but connected and exchanging via the internet. Also the digital documentation and transmission of ICH is still a relatively unexplored territory, generating questions of ownership, intellectual property rights, balancing the plea for open data (freely available to everyone to use and republish) on the one hand and secrecy and discretion on the other.

6 ICH communities and participation

43. During our discussions with the experts, we all agreed on the need to closely involve local people in the safeguarding process. Indeed it is up to the local communities, groups and individuals concerned by ICH to freely define their own intangible cultural heritage, and they ought to closely participate in the policy processes to create a heritage safeguarding plan. The Faro Convention emphasises this point, using the term “democratic participation” and encouraging everyone to participate in “the process of identification, study, interpretation, protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural heritage” (Article 12).
44. The idea of “the widest possible participation of the Communities, groups and individuals (CGIs) concerned and with their free, prior and informed consent” is used when States Parties nominate an element for the Lists of the ICH Convention.
45. However, in this respect, it is important to emphasise the negative consequences that would result from de-contextualising intangible cultural heritage in practice. For example, performing traditional dances for tourists on a massive scale, or displacing a ritual from its fixed date for commercial gain, risk breaching the connection people experience with their heritage. This brings with it negative effects for the viability of the ICH and decisively changes the dynamics of the living heritage. Carefully balanced development of ICH is therefore always a key issue. In 2016, a set of 12 ethical principles was adopted to complement the ICH Convention, addressing mostly the fragile balance between respect for the autonomy of “Communities, groups and individuals concerned” on the one hand, and guidelines as well as limits to interventions in the safeguarding of ICH, on the other hand.Note
46. An exemplary practice can be found in the work of the Batana EcomuseumNote and its many partners on its local maritime heritage in the Adriatic coastal town of Rovinj in Croatia. The batana is a traditional wooden boat which the community has chosen as its symbol. It is a precious bond connecting the local residents of various ethnicities. The safeguarding actions for the batana have subsequently resulted in a lively dynamic to revive this practice and in particular to bring it closer to younger generations. For example, the Eco-museum offers permanent exhibitions and workshops for young people and children; boat-building workshops and regattas are organised; an itinerary has been developed for visitors to experience sailing on batana and tasting local cuisine and singing in a konoba, thus reviving the ancient practices and community living which were associated with the batana. Since 2016, The Batana Ecomuseum has been listed in the UNESCO Register of Good Safeguarding Practices for intangible cultural heritage.
47. Models and methods of participatory governance are needed to address the challenge of setting up fair and feasible heritage community participation. Europe thrives on a widespread tradition of active citizenship and engagement in a variety of associations, clubs, NGOs, civil society organisations, etc. This social capital is favouring collaborative processes of governance, but successful practices are not so obvious or spontaneous when it comes to multi-stakeholder conversations, confrontations and governance on what we could call “heritage commons” with divergent issues at stake and levels of proximity and involvement. These participatory processes will require a sustained effort to develop practices, pilot projects and expertise in the coming years.
48. A wide range of actors in Europe are active in the safeguarding of ICH, including NGOs, civil society organisations, folk culture and local history associations, eco-museums and other community museums, professional heritage institutions such as documentary heritage centers and archives, academic institutions and research centres, etc. Networks among these actors are emerging internationally.
49. NGOs accredited under the ICH Convention have set up a (global) ICH NGO ForumNote since 2009, to foster discussion and co-operation among NGOs, as well as to offer a contact point for third parties. The Forum has developed into a platform for sharing information and experiences internationally. A general programme for NGOs has been set up to create links with ongoing networking and sharing of skills at a regional and national level.Note UNESCO-accredited NGOs that are based in Europe are by far outnumbering other geographical regions. This indicates the enormous potential for active co-operation around ICH with NGOs and diverse actors from civil society alike. European policies ought to provide support for these processes.
50. For example, in Nordic States, transnational and multi-stakeholder co-operation on the safeguarding of ICH is flourishing. Joint capacity-building programmes have been set up, as well as a recent digital platform where Nordic safeguarding practices are being documented and shared.Note Another vibrant example of co-operation on the multi-actor and international level is the initiative on urban cultures, superdiversity and ICH, which was initiated by a collaboration of NGOs, UNESCO national commissions and research institutes.Note In Scotland, there is the important work of Museums and Galleries Scotland (MGS),Note a museum network signing up to a country-wide ICH safeguarding strategy and an online wiki for ICH in Scotland.
51. A new phase of collaboration is emerging with initiatives such as the ICH and Museums Project (IMP), supported by the European Union programme Creative Europe, bringing together five nationally active ICH network organisations – Workshop intangible heritage Flanders (Belgium), Dutch Centre for Intangible Heritage (Netherlands), SIMBDEA (Italy), Verband der Museen der Schweiz (Switzerland) and the French Center for Intangible Culturel Heritage – with associated partnerships with ICOM, NEMO and the ICH Convention NGO Forum. They have set up a European co-operation and exchange project exploring the contact zone between museums’ work and safeguarding ICH development.Note However, in comparison with monumental, landscape, movable or digital heritage, the EU funding for ICH-related projects remains small and underdeveloped.
52. Transnational networking and co-operation among ICH practitioners and communities in Europe is omnipresent. Among numerous examples: “Les Géants du Nord” gather together the French and Belgian processional giant communities;Note lace making associations and schools from Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium and the Czech Republic have set up exchanges and have been collaborating for many decades;Note or the European Roma and Travellers Forum.
53. The European platform for traditional sports and games (TSG)Note is another example, showing evidence of the impact international policy can generate to stimulate networking and co-operation. The TSG Platform stems from multiple collaboration initiativesNote and transnational projects (Erasmus+) in previous years. The co-operation was fostered by the ICH Convention, which recognises that traditional sports and games are part of our intangible heritage and a symbol of the cultural diversity of our societies. In 2006, UNESCO organised a consultation, bringing together the main actors involved in the process of safeguarding and valuing traditional sports and games to create an international platform for their promotion and development. This helped to create a TSG informal world network, bringing together local communities, experts, NGOs and national and international institutions. In Europe, this process stimulated the creation of the European Traditional Sports and Games Association.

7 Conclusions and recommendations

54. In the wake of the wide ratification of the ICH Convention, national, regional and local ICH policies are being established throughout Europe, demonstrating different potential approaches and solutions to integrate ICH into heritage and other legislative frameworks. Notwithstanding guiding principles for cultural heritage policy in the Faro Convention and the Council of Europe Strategy 21, I believe that the development of ICH in Europe requires a dedicated policy vision text on the safeguarding of ICH, in order to establish a level playing field as regards the cultural heritage conventions for the European context, to enhance ICH policies and measures to their full potential, and to act as a compass for orientation for the multiple actors that are emerging across Europe and are committed to safeguarding ICH. Therefore, I propose to promote a policy vision on safeguarding and enhancing ICH in Europe, taking the following components into account.

7.1 Safeguarding ICH in an integrated approach

55. ICH is a living heritage, manifesting itself through all domains of society. It is part of a wider context with its cultural, ecological, economic, social and political dimensions. The policy vision for ICH should therefore highlight interdependence between the safeguarding and enhancing of ICH and a wider political commitment towards sustainable development. Policy vision should offer guidance to address this global-local challenge.Note
56. To implement this, public authorities should foster local and regional development projects and strategies, urban development projects and strategies, micro-economy, creative economy and sustainable tourism initiatives that would integrate sustainable safeguarding and enhancement of ICH in close co-operation with ICH communities. Incentives should be provided through funding for multi-stakeholder co-operation projects (joint ventures) and effective platforms for sharing expertise and experience.

7.2 Safeguarding ICH and its relation to cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue

57. We need to link the vision on safeguarding of ICH with a vision on cultural diversity and European policy on intercultural dialogue. Cultural diversity should be taken as an attitude and guiding principle in safeguarding and enhancing ICH, thereby bringing honour to Europe’s credo of “unity in diversity”. It could be a vision to promote macrodiversity, which stands for safeguarding a diversity of ICH practices in Europe, as well as microdiversity, embracing diversity and dialogue within the individual ICH practice and its heritage community.
58. This vision stands for “a common heritage embracing pluralism”. It empowers cultural identity, and at the same time it brings also dynamic change and adaptation. Drawing on this vision, one can make room for bonding, bridging and linking people and their heritage(s) in an intercultural dialogue around a shared involvement with ICH and its safeguarding in our societies.

7.3 ICH communities and participatory multi-stakeholder governance

59. The spirit of Article 15 of the ICH Convention, which highlights participation,Note ought to be integrated with the “heritage community” approach as introduced by the Faro Convention. The idea of a heritage community – “people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations” (Article 2) – is central to the right to culture and cultural heritage. In other words, it is a right to access and be involved in heritage making. This combined approach would allow an understanding of “communities, groups and, where appropriate, individuals”, as the involved “heritage community” or “ICH community”.
60. Moreover, guidelines would be needed to accommodate fair and feasible participatory multi-stakeholder governance; keeping an eye on proportionality in which the practitioners remain at all times empowered to activate their “custody” on the ICH practice.

7.4 Intangible–tangible heritage interaction

61. Conventions dealing with tangible and intangible cultural heritage abide by different inherent logic: protection versus safeguarding; unique or exceptional versus representative heritage and tangible heritage versus heritage that is “embodied” in people and actions (living heritage). They bring with them diverging concepts and interpretations, objectives and operational directives. Nonetheless, the Faro Convention offers an overall framework, by re-framing all heritage in relation to its value for society and by advocating an integrated approach and citizen participation.
62. In conceptual terms, clear dispositions on either tangible or intangible entries would help to facilitate dialogue and to recognise where connections and shared objectives may be retrieved. In practical terms, stimulating closer links between tangible and intangible heritage would bring many actors closer together, and provide existing expertise and infrastructure in the field of tangible heritage (heritage experts, museums, libraries, archives, etc.) to grassroots initiatives for safeguarding and enhancing intangible heritage. Such partnerships require however a certain degree of flexibility to accommodate the informal nature of grassroots activities.

7.5 ICH and education

63. I believe that we need to develop actions that invigorate training related to the safeguarding of ICH. We need to devote attention not only to higher education in universities and other academic institutions, but also to lifelong learning as well as to generating diverse types of employment that promote traditional knowledge and skills. Special attention should be given to action lines on vocational learning, in particular for craftsmanship but also other practices that are associated with ICH (which may range from a specialised niche mastership in performing arts, to knowledge on medicinal herbs and healing, or for example a particular traditional farming, herding or fishing practice, etc.). Opportunities and grants for acquiring ICH skills and competences should be created, for example through apprenticeships or fellowship, and by supporting mobility.

7.6 ICH and digital society

64. We ought to provide incentives to encourage possibilities for innovation and for the safeguarding of ICH offered by information technologies. For example we would need to accommodate digital methods and tools for ICH inventories and for safeguarding practices so that they could be harmonised in Europe (technically and methodologically aligned). I believe this would further stimulate exchanges and knowledge sharing (European digital cultural strategies).

7.7 Synergies and co-operation at European level

65. In terms of stimulating better synergy at European level, we could consider co-operation activities that could be undertaken by the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the European Union.

7.7.1 Platform for the safeguarding of ICH in Europe

66. We ought to embrace the existing forms of co-operation within a common European Platform for safeguarding and enhancing ICH. The Platform, open to the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, would bring together dedicated governmental and non-governmental organisations and actors in a multi-stakeholder and multi-level coalition around the viability and diversity of ICH in Europe.
67. Such a platform would also facilitate building capacities through gathering and exchanging insights from ICH safeguarding and enhancement practices and methods, cross-disciplinary co-operation (for example WHO’s Health 2020; New Urban Agenda; Creative industries); educational programmes; alignment in digital strategies; ethics; and cross-border co-operation on common ICH elements or safeguarding programmes (for example the Council of Europe Cultural Routes Programme).
68. We should also foresee incentives for ICH brokers and mediators to facilitate shared objectives and generate transnational co-operation.

7.7.2 Integrating ICH safeguarding targets and competences in the Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP)

69. In order to establish better synergy internally among Council of Europe Activities and initiatives incorporating intangible cultural heritage, such as the European Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes, and with the activities of UNESCO on ICH, the CDCPPNote could establish “complementary observers” with representatives from the ICH NGO Forum for accredited NGOs in the ICH Convention; from the UNESCO Category II Centre(s) for ICH in Europe; from the network of UNESCO Chairs devoted to safeguarding and enhancing ICH; and possible other relevant actors.

7.7.3 Monitoring the safeguarding and enhancement of ICH

70. Monitoring of the safeguarding and enhancement of ICH and their impact should be introduced to promote the collecting and analysis of qualitative evidence and quantitative data. We should examine how monitoring in Europe can be developed in alignment with the Overall Results Framework established for the ICH Convention in 2018.Note This could be an opportunity for co-operation and co-ordinated monitoring within Europe. For example, we could integrate this work into the Council of Europe Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe and into the HEREIN European Cultural Heritage Information Network.Note

7.7.4 Fostering research on safeguarding ICH

71. ICH ought to be included in the European Research Strategy and funding. We should foster co-operation on a research agenda for cultural heritage, including ICH. Support for ICH research initiatives should be strengthened within the EU framework programme for research and innovation (Horizon 2020). Open calls and programmes could then be launched focusing on ICH topics. There ought to be more support for the UNESCO Chairs in Europe devoted to safeguarding and enhancing ICH, especially to promote transnational exchange and co-operation.

7.7.5 Integrating ICH into existing European instruments

72. The safeguarding of ICH should be effectively incorporated into existing European instruments. In particular, we should:
  • include safeguarding and enhancing ICH in calls, criteria and support measures for European cultural projects and territorial co-operation (Creative Europe; Interreg);
  • promote ICH in the European Capitals of Culture Programme;
  • explore integration of ICH scope in the European Heritage days, by moving beyond the classic open door/monuments days and by embracing the intangible heritage actors and perspectives;
  • integrate ICH policy action into the announced 2020 #Digital4Culture strategy, using the digital potential to enhance the positive economic and societal effects of culture;
  • explore the possibilities for investing in safeguarding and enhancing ICH in international development co-operation, in particular in Africa, and consider collaborating with UNESCO.Note

Appendix – State of ratification of the 2003 UNESCO Convention in the Council of Europe member States

 

Country

Date of deposit of instrument

Type of instrument

1

Albania

04/04/2006

Ratification

2

Andorra

08/11/2013

Ratification

3

Armenia

18/05/2006

Acceptance

4

Austria

09/04/2009

Ratification

5

Azerbaijan

18/01/2007

Ratification

6

Belgium

24/03/2006

Acceptance

7

Bosnia and Herzegovina

23/02/2009

Ratification

8

Bulgaria

10/03/2006

Ratification

9

Croatia

28/07/2006

Ratification

10

Cyprus

24/02/2006

Ratification

11

Czech Republic

18/02/2009

Acceptance

12

Denmark

30/10/2009

Approval

13

Estonia

27/01/2006

Approval

14

Finland

21/02/2013

Acceptance

15

France

11/07/2007

Approval

16

Georgia

18/03/2008

Ratification

17

Germany

10/04/2013

Acceptance

18

Greece

03/01/2007

Ratification

19

Hungary

17/03/2006

Ratification

20

Iceland

23/11/2005

Ratification

21

Ireland

22/12/2015

Ratification

22

Italy

30/10/2007

Ratification

23

Latvia

14/01/2005

Acceptance

24

Liechtenstein

/

/

25

Lithuania

21/01/2005

Ratification

26

Luxembourg

31/01/2006

Approval

27

Malta

13/04/2017

Ratification

28

Republic of Moldova

24/03/2006

Ratification

29

Monaco

04/06/2007

Acceptance

30

Montenegro

14/09/2009

Ratification

31

Netherlands

15/05/2012

Acceptance

32

Norway

17/01/2007

Ratification

33

Poland

16/05/2011

Ratification

34

Portugal

21/05/2008

Ratification

35

Romania

20/01/2006

Acceptance

36

Russian Federation

/

/

37

San Marino

/

/

38

Serbia

30/06/2010

Ratification

39

Slovak Republic

24/03/2006

Ratification

40

Slovenia

18/09/2006

Ratification

41

Spain

25/10/2006

Ratification

42

Sweden

26/01/2011

Ratification

43

Switzerland

16/07/2008

Ratification

44

“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”

13/06/2006

Ratification

45

Turkey

27/03/2006

Ratification

46

Ukraine

27/05/2008

Ratification

47

United Kingdom

/

/

;