21.06.2016 - Culture Sector

UNESCO Regional Meeting for Europe and Scientific Colloquium on Access to the Underwater Cultural Heritage

A scientific colloquium organized by UNESCO and the National Museum of Denmark took place on 8 and 9 June 2016 in Copenhagen and brought together experts and museum and tourism professionals from Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The meeting also adopted a Recommendation.
The rich exchange of experiences among the participants fueled new regional initiatives to make underwater cultural heritage more accessible while still protected. In particular, the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage was discussed, along with scientific standards available to government representatives and cultural decision makers. Ulrike Guerin from UNESCO presented the legal and operational aspects of 2001 Convention, highlighting the importance of its wider ratification.

The importance of the submerged heritage for the sustainable development of coastal regions was also discussed.  Today tourism and recreation provide higher employment in coastal regions than the fishing industry.  The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that up to 37 % of tourism is motivated by cultural heritage. Making submerged heritage accessible to the public will generate interest, economic and social development, and above all greater understanding, safeguarding and appreciation of underwater cultural heritage.  Notably, its scientific and educational values will especially benefit local communities.

The colloquium also explored how new technologies are allowing the virtual reconstruction of underwater cultural sites in 3D, as well as their recreation by printing scanned models of the sites at different scales.  These can be placed in aquariums, for instance. Several museums proposed strengthened cooperation in this new endeavor. A special meeting on 3D reconstruction of underwater cultural heritage in aquariums and museums is foreseen for 2017, in Turkey.



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