International experts review UNESCO/Japan Lumbini project
Members of the International Scientific Steering Committee for the project “Strengthening the Conservation and Management of Lumbini, the Birthplace of Lord Buddha” met recently in Lumbini to review progress of the project which is implemented by UNESCO, the Department of Archaeology and the Lumbini Development Trust. It is funded by the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust (UNESCO/JFIT) for the Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage.
The meeting, which took place from 17 to 19 July 2012, reviewed project activities undertaken during the project’s second year while also formulating plans for next year’s work in the area of archaeology, conservation and overall planning of the site.
Robin Conningham of University of Durham, UK, presented new findings during the excavation at the Mayadevi Temple, which shelters the Marker Stone pinpointing the birthplace of Buddha, and surrounding areas.
Basanta Bidari of Lumbini Development Trust shared information on the activities of the conservation team led by Costantino Meucci. UNESCO heritage expert Kai Weise briefed the committee members on progress in the preparation of the Integrated Management Plan for the World Heritage Property of Lumbini, which had been submitted to Nepal Government, and team leader Yukio Nishimura of University of Tokyo provided an overall update about the status of the project.
Nishimura also shared reviews of the Kenzo Tange Master Plan for the Sacred Garden and proposal for further activities to be conducted in accordance with the Plan.
In addition to reviewing progress in project implementation, meeting participants discussed a verity of other initiatives centered on the World Heritage Site. These included a comprehensive archaeological survey of the Greater Lumbini Area and the possibility of a World Heritage serial nomination of other sites related to Lumbini.
During their three day meeting, the experts also paid a visit to Tilaurakot and Ramgram, which Nepal intends to consider for nomination to the World Heritage List by including it on the “Tentative List”.
The International Scientific Steering Committee (ISSC) meeting was followed by a stakeholder meeting on 19 July to share the status of the activities of the UNESCO/JFIT project, and recapitulate on the main issues and decisions that have been made regarding Lumbini’s development. The participants of the stakeholders meeting, mostly representing the local Lumbini institutions, enthusiastically participated in the Q&A session.
The ISSC will next meet in July, 2013.
The ISSC was established to supervise the overall implementation of the UNESCO/JFIT project. It is composed of representatives from the Department of Archeology of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Lumbini Development Trust, the Japanese government, UNESCO and various international technical experts who have been leading the project.