Culture

Culture Sector mainly focused on the need to effectively protect, develop and promote culture and cultural heritages as a resource for development as well as building institutional and human capacity aiming at strengthening the CLT sector contribution to sustainable economic development.  The present cooperation focuses more on sustainable tourism development and support the community, particularly women and youth to benefit from the sector as an alternative means of livelihood.

The Castles of Gondar © Laura Petrecca / Laura Petrecca

UNESCO Sites are symbols of our work in support of sustainable development. The international community helps us ensure these sites, of outstanding universal value, function as models of heritage conservation and sustainable human living. In Ethiopia, UNESCO's work includes developing integrated management plans for sites such as Simien Mountains National Park, the Castles of Gondar, and Lake Tana. They highlight our unique, integrated and transdisciplinary approach - encompassing education, culture, and science - to improve the lives of locals, and alleviate poverty, notably through the promotion of sustainable tourism and cultural heritage.

But what is the link between Culture, Science, and Sustainable Development?  How can this link ensure integrated management plans for UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves in Africa at large that function as examples of heritage conservation and sustainable human living while supporting environmentally friendly and culturally responsible tourism?  And how can UNESCO’s ongoing work in Ethiopia, in partnership with other UN agencies, development programmes, and national counterparts, serve as a model for reflection on ways forward in this regard?

These questions, among others, were at the heart of the pre-planning excursion undertaken in early May 2014 in preparation for a Continental Conference on UNESCO Sites in Africa foreseen in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, in November 2015 in order to enhance the functioning, visibility, information exchange, partnerships, and impact of UNESCO sites across the Continent.  The pre-planning excursion, organized by UNESCO’s Liaison Office to the African Union and Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, included experts from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, the Ethiopian Tourism Organization, FAO, UNDP, JICA, NABU, the development arm of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Culture Tourism and Park Development Bureau, the Amhara Regional State President’s Office, and Gondar University.  The excursion allowed for an exchange of information, on-site discussions of issues, and the pro-active formation of multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of sustainable development and site management.

The planned UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Lake Tana – the source of the Blue Nile - as well as the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Simien Mountains National Park and the Castles of Gondar were visited by the team. Further work in support of sustainable development was discussed during the excursion, including the establishment of a Green School in Bahir Dar, the importance of church forests for the in-situ conservation of indigenous Ethiopian tree species at Lake Tana, and environmentally friendly and culturally responsible tourism development at Lake Tana and in Simien Mountains National Park.  In this context, best practices for land use, reduction of soil erosion, reforestation, enhancement of biodiversity conservation, and climate change resilience were shared between UN agencies, national development programmes, and Ethiopian counterparts.

The pre-planning excursion underlined the need for UNESCO sites to function as models of heritage conservation and sustainable human living, in symbiosis with nature conservation and sustainable development. This necessitates further support from Governmental authorities, UN agencies, the private sector, the public, as well as the African Union, UNECA, and donors.  To this end, UNESCO and the Ethiopian UNESCO Man and the Biosphere National Committee have recently enhanced their capacity and focus on Biosphere Reserve Development in Ethiopia. This is based on numerous bilateral and multi-stakeholder discussions that took place between August 2013 and April 2014.  As a result of ongoing conversations, it emerged that all the ingredients for effective UNESCO site management are available, including knowledge and expertise; however, better coordination and increased synergies are needed to ensure better and sustainable results.  This is true not only for the Simien Mountains and Lake Tana, but for Ethiopia’s potential Sites and UNESCO Sites across the Continent at large.

In concluding the pre-planning excursion, it was determined that increased synergy and coordination among all stakeholders will be essential to strengthen the professional identification, establishment, management, and functioning of UNESCO Sites.  The continental conference foreseen in November 2015 in Bahir Dar will ensure an exchange of best practices and encourage south-south cooperation across countries and agencies to further develop integrated management plans of UNESCO Sites.

Click here to watch: UNESCO in Ethiopia: Safeguarding sites for sustainable development

  The Ministry of Culture and Tourism organized a two day expert meeting on October 26-27 in Debre-Brehan town to finalize the Cultural Policy, which has been under revision for a long time.

  The meeting was held in the presence of H.E. Mrs. Fatya Yousuf, Chair of Culture Information Standing Committee in the Parliament and H.E. Mr. Mulugeta Seid, State Minister of Culture and Tourism. The meeting is supported technically and financially by UNESCO/ADI and the  participants of the meeting have reached at an agreement on the final version of the Policy to be presented to the Council of Ministers for endorsement.

 

WHs of Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region.

   The mission of UNESCO Addis Ababa Director Mr. Firmin E. Matoko and Culture Officer, Mr. Getu Assefa, to the World Heritage site (WHs) of Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar was organized in collaboration with Gondar Zone, the Culture and Tourism Bureau to assess the condition of Fassil Ghibi found in Gondar town and to discuss with authorities the possible areas of cooperation.The main WHs includes six castles and churches of the 17th century built by kings, who ruled Ethiopia from the then capital city, Gondar.

   “The site is important for its historical, cultural and architectural significance. Due to age and absence of proper restoration, some of the buildings are not found in a good condition,” said the Site Manager, Mr. Kassa Me-zen. Currently, the Site has no management plan, legal protection or legally defined Site boundary.

   Tourist safety regulations are missing, they are not even in the areas where the structure is in an insufficient condition. There is also an issue whether the WHs includes sites outside of Fasil Ghibi, such as Fasil bath, Castle of Guzara, Doro Bet, Tsadiqu Yohannes, Debre-brehan Silassie and Qusquam Churches found inside the Gondar town and its vicinity. These structures are from the same period and have an architectural resemblance.

Gondar town also has a sister city cooperation with the French city of Vincent, from which some funds were already raised for the restoration of Ras Gimb, one of the oldest structures.

The Zonal administration is aware of all the seri-ous issues which need urgent attention. Among the key issues for the local administration are finances, expertise for maintenance, and development of a site management plan.

Meeting of experts on the development of IX. volume of the General History of Africa

Opening speaker panel of the Meeting of experts.

Around 60 participants were present at the opening session of the Meeting of experts which took place in Addis Ababa at African Union Commission premises from May 20-22. The opening speeches were delivered by Prof. Elikia M’Bokolo, Chair of the Scientific Committee for the Pedagogical use of the GHA Project; H.E. Mulugeta Said, State Minister of Culture and Tourism of Ethiopia; Mr. Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General of UNESCO and H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson AUC. All key note speakers expressed their appreciation and gratefulness to all who participated on the General History of Africa project in the past decades and welcomed the launch of the IX. volume which was the key topic of the discussion of experts in the following days in Addis Ababa.

“Today, we are on the eve of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Organization of African Union. It is a very good opportunity to discuss the General History of Africa as an important issue, the time Africa has engaged in regional integration and sustainable development based on African people’s culture, common heritage and shared values.

Hence, the renovation of history education is given a new sense of urgency,” said H.E. Mulugeta Said, State Minister of Culture and Tourism who also welcomed all the participants to Ethiopia and Addis Ababa, the capital city of Africa.

           Deputy Director General of UNESCO, Mr. Getachew Engida, said that: “the General History of Africa is a UNESCO flagship and that it is one of the projects that make him personally most proud of the Organization.” He also stressed that UNESCO is grateful to the Government of Brazil for generously providing the financial support required for drafting and publishing the new volume and for serving on the International Scientific Committee. Ambassador of Brazil, Mrs. Isabel Cristina de Azevedo Heyvaert, was among the speakers  during the opening session of the Meeting of experts.

Final opening speech was given by H.E. Erastus Mwencha who said that “It is history that Africa wants to look at and take lessons from. And that all the historians from all over the world who gathered here in Addis Ababa for the three days are crucial for us because we need to learn from the past and not to repeat the mistakes.”

The Meeting of experts in Addis Ababa outlined not only the format and the orientation of the IX. volume, but also its methodology, main themes and landmarks and challenges in recent African History.

 

 

Memory of the World

Memory of the World

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, priceless documentary heritage record the diversity of languages, peoples and knowledge that have influenced humanity from the  early days of human history to the present.

           

The UNESCO Memory of the World programme was created to preserve these recorded treasures of humanity and mobilize resources so that the future generations can enjoy this legacy that is preserved in the major libraries, archives and museums across the globe. This book is a full listing of all entries on the official UNESCO Memory of the World international register.

 

Dialogues en Humanité

 

  UNESCO was proud to contribute to the first Dialogues en Humanité to take place in Africa. The event was held at the Alliance Française in Addis Ababa, from October 20-21. The Dialogues en Humanité aims at encouraging open exchanges between people from various sectors, from philosophy to economics. This annual event, that usually takes place in Lyon, France was born from the observation that the human question is too often ignored and must be at the center of international forums.

  The event was also the opportunity to hold a conference on the project of the Addis Ababa Human Origins Museum, a partnership between Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the European Union, in association with UNESCO.

 

The State Minister of Culture and Tourism visit to the Harari Regional State

© UNESCO From left Mr. Firmin Matoko, UNESCO Director, State Minister of Culture andTourism, H.E. Dawd Mohamed and Head of Harrari region, Mr. Murad Abdulahi.

  The State Minister of Culture and Tourism, H.E.  Dawood Mohammed, and the Director of UNESCO Liaison Office to AU, UNECA and Representative to Ethiopia, Mr. Firmin Matoko, paid a working visit to the Harari National Regional State of Ethiopia from 6 to 8 November.

  The goal of the visit to the city of Harar by the two high officials was to discuss with the President of the Harari National Regional State, Mr. Murad Abdulhadi, about the progress of the ongoing Harnessing Diversity for Sustainable Development and Social Change (HDSDSC) Project.

  During the meeting with the President of the Harari National Regional State, the officials have reached an agreement on the way to sustain the achievements of the HDSDSC Project in this Ethiopian region and how to continuously support its progress  in near future.

The State Minister and the Director have also made a discussion with Mr. Muhyadin Ahmed, Head of the Harrari Bureau of Culture, Heritage and Tourism. The discussion was on the major achievements of the Harnessing Diversity for Sustainable Development and Social Change project and how to sustain the achievements after the project closed out. In this regard, Mr. Muhyadin says, “My bureau will exert all its efforts to sustain the achievement of the project since it has clearly shown us the contribution of culture to Development.”

 

  The senior officials have also visited the project sites and discussed with the HDSDSC project beneficiaries.

 

Reactive Monitoring Mission to Aksum

In accordance to a decision made by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) at its 36th session in St. Petersburg in 2012, a high level reactive monitoring mission led by Ms. Alissandra Cummins, World Heritage Expert and Chair of the UNESCO Executive Board, Mr. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Chief of Africa Unit, World Heritage Centre and Mr. Karel Bakker, World Heritage Expert,ICOMOS, took place from 21 to 26 January in Aksum and Lalibela. The experts came to Ethiopia to evaluate the development impact on the World Heritage Site(WHS) of Aksum and the conservation issues related to the site. The team also visited the UNESCO WHS conservation project in Lalibela. The aim of the mission was to evaluate the progress made by the relevant national and local Ethiopian authorities in the implementation of the decisions made by the WHC at is previous three sessions. Practical recommendations and measures to further improve the conservation and management of the properties will follow the mission and will also be presented to the Government of Ethiopia and WHC.

A Visit to a Living Cultural Resource Center

Culture and communications representatives of UNESCO and UNDP visited the construction site of the future Living Cultural Resource Center in the town of Bishoftu early December. The delegation saw that the project’s construction of the Center is well underway and it was in fact successfully finished in January 2013.The responsible coordinator Mr. Daniel Deressa welcomed the visiting group and presented the current status of the future Living Cultural Resource Center which should soon become operational.The Center will serve as a meeting point and handicraft/creative art place for local citizens.The Living Cultural Center in Bishoftu is one of the four centers created in Ethiopia as a part of the Harnessing Diversity for Sustainable Development and Social Change project. The goal of this project, which was finalized in December 2012,was to mobilize the culture sector and utilize culture to alleviate poverty and enhance social cohesion,and promote sustainable development in Ethiopia. A final closing event for this project should take place in coming weeks in Addis Ababa with presence of high level representatives as well as project beneficiaries.

Final evaluation of the “Harnessing Diversity for Sustainable Development and Social Change” Project in Ethiopia

Harnessing Diversity for Sustainable Development and Social Change (HDSDSC) Joint Program was signed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia, and the Ministry of Culture andTourism as an implementing partner. The Joint Program team was comprised of UNESCO and UNDP,with UNESCO as the lead agency and also the sole UN agency responsible for culture, and UNDP, as the lead UN agency for the MDGs.“The final evaluation of the HDSCSC Joint Program proved that it played a significant role in addressing various socio-economic issues in Ethiopia,mainly of the disadvantaged groups such as women and youth,” says Kassahun Abate,UNESCO Liaison Office Program Coordinator.The program was targeted to contribute to the goal of alleviating poverty and hunger (MDG 1),improve gender equality and women empowerment(MDG3) and ensure sustainable natural resource management (MDG7) through harnessing the potential of the cultural as well as the natural diversity of Ethiopia for economic and social development.The HDSCSC program, which was implemented at the federal and six regional states of Ethiopia from July 2009 to December 2012, empowered beneficiaries through provision of skill training, securing production equipment, revolving fund and production and market places. It was also successful in responding to an emerging concern of inter-religious conflict.

“The Contribution of Culture for Development: A Challenge to Today’s Ethiopia”

Within the framework of promoting the role of culture for development at a national level, a two day conference held on May 25-26 was organized in the Debre Zeit town in collaboration with the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures(AELC) which is part of the Addis Ababa University. The conference was organized under a theme, “The Contribution of Culture for development:A Challenge of Today’s Ethiopia”.The workshop was attended by almost 60 relevant stakeholders from the federal and regional government organizations,private enterprises and academics.The conference opened by Mr. Workneh Aklilu, Advisor and representing the State Minister of MoCT, Mr. Mulugeta Seid and Mr. Firmin Matoko, Representative and Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Addis Ababa. Both speakers spoke about the importance of contribution of culture for development. Mr. Matoko particularly stressed the efforts of UNESCO to include culture in the post 2015 MDG Agenda.The workshop recommended: the revision of the current cultural policy in a way that it addresses the cultural/creative industries with focus on women and youth, the enhancement of cultural statistics under the leadership of MoCT, the making of an inventory to know exactly what the country has a cultural resource, which can also be used for social cohesion and economic benefits.

“The Contribution of Culture for Development: A Challenge to Today’s Ethiopia”

Within the framework of promoting the role of culture for development at a national level, a two day conference held on May 25-26 was organized in the Debre Zeit town in collaboration with the Academy of Ethiopian Languages and Cultures(AELC) which is part of the Addis Ababa University. The conference was organized under a theme, “The Contribution of Culture for development:A Challenge of Today’s Ethiopia”.The workshop was attended by almost 60 relevant stakeholders from the federal and regional government organizations,private enterprises and academics.The conference opened by Mr. Workneh Aklilu, Advisor and representing the State Minister of MoCT, Mr. Mulugeta Seid and Mr. Firmin Matoko, Representative and Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Addis Ababa. Both speakers spoke about the importance of contribution of culture for development. Mr. Matoko particularly stressed the efforts of UNESCO to include culture in the post 2015 MDG Agenda.The workshop recommended: the revision of the current cultural policy in a way that it addresses the cultural/creative industries with focus on women and youth, the enhancement of cultural statistics under the leadership of MoCT, the making of an inventory to know exactly what the country has a cultural resource, which can also be used for social cohesion and economic benefits.

© UNESCO/Mr Kassahun Abate a new Living Cultural Resource Centre was inaugurated on November 22 in the town of Konso located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

 

 Living Cultural Resource Center Inaugurated

In Konso, 22 November 2012in within the framework of the MDG:F Culture and Development for HDSDSC project a new Living Cultural Resource Centre was inaugurated on November 22 in the town of Konso located in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNP) of Ethiopia.

       The inauguration was attended by the State Minister of Culture, H.E. Dawood Mohammed and Mr. Zerihun Zewde, Culture and Tourism Bureau Head of SNNP as well as UNESCO and UNDP cultural specialists and other stakeholders.

  The Cultural Centre of Konso, which shares the compound with the Konso Museum, consists of three rooms in which training of handicraft already started focusing currently on weaving and pottery.

  Within this project another three Living Cultural Resource Centres will be inaugurated in different Ethiopian regions next month.

 

© UNESCO The Conference Participants


Fundraising Conference for Simien National Park World Heritage Property in Danger

The donors conference for the Simien Mountains National Park was held November 30 in Addis Ababa in the presence of the State Ministers of Agriculture and of Culture and Tourism.

The objective was to implement the decisions of the World Heritage Committee, to undertake necessary measures in order to rehabilitate the site and bring out of the World Heritage in Danger List.

The conference was a success as most of the expected representatives from international donor agencies, Embassies, UNDP, Ethiopians in Diaspora, Ethiopian celebrities, etc. participated and showed their commitment to provide the necessary technical and financial support for the site rehabilitation.

 

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