Home Culture & Lifestyle China, Africa to strengthen pact in protecting world heritage

China, Africa to strengthen pact in protecting world heritage

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By Wan Yu, People’s Daily

A five-year plan was preliminarily formed to boost capacity building for China and Africa regarding world heritage conservation and management at a side event of the ongoing 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that kicked off on July 16 in Fuzhou, capital of southeast China’s Fujian province.

The plan is aimed at establishing platforms for more direct exchange of knowledge between Chinese and African experts and scholars in the field of world heritage as well as custodians of world heritage sites so that the two sides can intensify exchange and sharing of experience, jointly carry out capacity building activities, and elevate the level of world heritage protection and management together.

The side event, which took place on July 19 under the theme of “Capacity Building for World Heritage Conservation and Management–Towards Future Cooperation Between Africa and China”, was attended by more than 150 people, including officials from the UNESCO, representatives of international organizations, and Chinese and African experts and scholars.

Before formulating the five-year plan, participants in the event reviewed the fruits of cooperation between China and Africa in the field of world heritage since 2019, and discussed the current situation of capacity building concerning the conservation and management of world heritage in Africa and China.

As the home of the world-famous Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, the lofty Mount Kilimanjaro on savannas, and the amazing ancient stone towers of the Great Zimbabwe ruins shrouded in forests, Africa is a continent endowed with rich and colorful natural and cultural resources. However, due to multiple factors, including social and economic development, Africa has long lagged behind other regions of the world in applying for UNESCO World Heritage status, as well as the management and protection of its world heritage.

There are 12 countries in Africa that still don’t have any heritage recognized as world heritage by the UNESCO, and 22 of the 53 properties included on the List of World Heritage in danger by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO are located in Africa, according to Souayibou Varissou, executive director of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF).

At the side event, Varissou called for increasing financial support for the AWHF to improve Africa’s capability to protect world heritage.

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee tries to give priority to Africa in policy formulation, capacity building, international aid, and upstream procedures, in a bid to enhance the representativeness and improve the balance of world heritage, said Tian Xuejun, director of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and also chairman of the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee.

Upholding the idea of the China-Africa community with a shared future, China attaches great importance to its cooperation with Africa in protecting world heritage, held the UNESCO-Africa-China Forum on World Heritage Capacity Building and Cooperation, and supports efforts to carry out training in risk management and protection of world heritage for custodians of world heritage sites in African countries including Uganda, Benin, and Tanzania, Tian said.

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