03.10.2017 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Regional conference recognizes the importance of protecting underwater cultural heritage in Southeast Asia

Photo source: Ministry of Education and Culture, Republic of Indonesia

Makassar, 20 September 2017 – Heritage managers participating in a conference on underwater cultural heritage recognized the need to protect the cultural sites found in Southeast Asia’s waters.

The history and development of Southeast Asia are intimately linked to the sea. The region possesses a rich underwater cultural and natural heritage, which reflects its identity and should be protected for future generations. However, this heritage is threatened mainly by pillage and commercial exploitation.
To address this issue, the ASEAN-UNESCO Conference on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was held on 19-20 September 2017 in Makassar, Indonesia. It gathered Specialists of heritage from Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN and Timor-Leste) and international experts and focused on three themes: cultural heritage, natural heritage and history.
International experts brought their experience on UNESCO 2001 Convention on the protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, Maritime history of Southeast Asia, interplay of Natural and Cultural heritage and legal and practical aspects of underwater cultural heritage.
The participants from Southeast Asia shared their experience and the challenges they face in protecting the underwater cultural heritage and agreed on a way forward to protect it at national and regional levels, including setting-up ad hoc structures, education, standard setting, controlled heritage access and protection.
The conference was co-organized by the ASEAN Secretariat, UNESCO Office Jakarta, and the Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia. It was supported by the Government of Makassar, South Sulawesi Province.

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