11.03.2021 - Culture Sector

UNESCO and Namibia hosted a Regional Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Africa

From 10 to 11 March, UNESCO and Namibia hosted a Regional Meeting on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage in Africa, with the participation of representatives from 8 countries (Cap Verde, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa). UNESCO is committed to expanding in Africa the ratification and implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, which currently has 11 African States Parties.  The meeting  aimed to help Member States strengthen their capacities in protecting their submerged heritage, such as shipwrecks, sunken structures and offering sites. It was organized on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 2001 Convention.

In addition to UNESCO experts, speakers included representatives of national authorities of the African States, leading archaeologists, senior cultural heritage experts, historians and conservators from the African region. The discussions focused on the current status of the 2001 Convention and its implementation in Africa, and offered practical advice on how best to protect African underwater heritage  

The exchanges allowed to deepen cooperation among underwater cultural heritage actors, including as concerns the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. The meeting also addressed how to establish inventories based on the standard UNESCO inventory sheet and how to provide responsible heritage access.

The Honourable Ester Anna-Lisa Nghipondoka, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture of Namibia, officially opened the meeting on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Namibia. Sixty-one participants joined online and 30 participants were in presential. It was supported by experts from the UNESCO Unitwin programme, the UNESCO Chair for Ocean History in Lisbon, and representatives of the ICUA center in Zadar, Croatia.

The meeting lead to the adoption of a resolution calling for the involvement of local communities in underwater heritage safeguarding and further archaeological investigations in Africa. 

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