15.04.2019 - UNESCO Office in Brussels

UNESCO participates in the EU Digital Day 2019

“The use of technologies gives us an unprecedented access to the past, to knowledge, history and memory, which is crucial not only for heritage professionals, but also for citizens to deepen their sense of belonging and understanding of other cultures” said Louise Haxthausen, UNESCO Representative to the European Union, in Brussels during her intervention at the European Digital Day 2019.

The conference, the third of its kind organized by the European Commission took place in Brussels on 9 April and gathered high-level participants from the European Commission, different EU Member States and other stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss how to accelerate digital developments in key areas to bring tangible benefits to the society. Louise Haxthausen spoke on the panel dedicated to the digitization of cultural heritage, in presence of Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, and Tibor Navracsics, EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

During the panel discussion dedicated to cultural heritage, the European Commission presented the Declaration of Cooperation on Advancing Digitisation of Cultural Heritage, which was followed by its formal signing by EU Member States Representatives. This Declaration sets the ground for cooperation in three main areas: a pan-European initiative for 3D digitization of cultural heritage, artefacts, monuments and sites; the re-use of digitized cultural resources to foster citizen engagement; and the enhancement of cross-sector and cross-border cooperation in the sector of digitized cultural heritage.

“With this Declaration, Europe is setting an example to act more and better for the preservation of cultural heritage, in line with common principles, values and standards. It is our hope that this endeavour will, in turn, benefit and inspire others, and foster broader international cooperation,” said Louise Haxthausen. She also highlighted how UNESCO has been leading in setting the normative framework for cultural heritage safeguarding, and in supporting its Member States in implementing international standards on cultural heritage conservation, management and access. During her intervention, she brought up the new EU-UNESCO partnership project Revive the Spirit of Mosul to explain how digital technologies can help accelerate the restoration and reconstruction of cultural heritage affected by conflicts, raise public awareness and contribute to countering illicit trafficking of cultural property.

In addition to cultural heritage, another panel of the conference was dedicated to Artificial Intelligence. Commissioner Mariya Gabriel unveiled the Artificial Intelligence Ethical Guidelines drafted by the EU Expert Group on AI to which UNESCO was an observer. Seven key requirements were established by European experts for trustworthy AI: Human agency and oversight, Technical robustness and safety, Privacy and data governance, Transparency, Diversity, Non-discrimination and Fairness, Societal and Environmental Wellbeing and, finally, Accountability. The guidelines aims at shaping the draft of future policies in the European Union and a piloting program will be established to gather practical feedback on the operationalisation of the seven key requirements.

For more information of the Digital Day 2019, please click here.

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