27.09.2013 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Renewed commitment to safeguard Nepal's intangible cultural heritage

© UNESCO\S. Lama -Tenzing Kunchok Lama, participant from Tsumvalley giving a presentation on intangible heritage of the valley

The capacity building workshop to safeguard Nepal's intangible cultural heritage ended in Kathmandu last week with an enhanced stakeholders' networking and commitment by the participants to apply their knowledge in its preservation.

Thirty-three experts participated in the workshop that focused on the nomination of elements of intangible cultural heritage to the urgent safeguarding and representative lists  established in accordance to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003.

Financed by Japan, the workshop which was held in Kathmandu from 16 to 20 September 2013, was jointly organized by the UNESCO Kathmandu Office and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

The five-day training, led by the UNESCO-trained facilitators Shubha Chaudhuri and Suzanne Ogge emphasized the central aim of the Convention and its Lists and Register.  It deepened the understanding of the ways in which the 2003 UNESCO Convention aims to foster participatory community-based approaches in the safeguarding and nomination processes. Safeguarding is defined by the Convention as "ensuring the viability of ICH, while preserving its values and functions for the people to whom it belongs, who create and recreate it".

Participants included local community representatives, government representatives and representatives of various other institutions – each of the National Academies, the Ethnographic Museum and Indigenous Organizations. Furthermore, independent scholars, researchers and managers directly or indirectly concerned with the safeguarding of Nepal’s intangible heritage also attended the workshop.

The participants expressed their satisfaction at having learned a great deal of the processes for completing files and the various requirements: for example, the requirement of free, prior and informed consent, the active participation of custodian communities or groups and individuals in the nominating process and the need to elaborate various safeguarding measures.

The excursion to a traditional oil mill in Khokana helped to elaborate potential safeguarding measures. This practical exercise enabled participants to develop skills in analysing the threats and risks to a concrete element of intangible cultural heritage.

Roshani Meche, a representative of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities stressed the need to engage stakeholders from indigenous institutions and other cultural academies in any future capacity building strategy and to strengthen institutional network including information and knowledge sharing with active community participation. There is also a need to increase the participation of women and other communities in future initiatives, Meche suggested.

"The capacity building workshops is a good exemple of our successful collaboration with UNESCO.  They have made many of us aware of practices in other countries and international mechanism to find better strategies for our own policy to safeguard Nepal’s intangible heritage", said Bharatmani Subedi, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.

"It is our responsibility to safeguard our rich living traditions because we are the experts , who understand our culture best and we should feel proud of them", said Sushil Ghimire, Secretary to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation in his closing remarks. Ghimire further encouraged all participants to share the knowledge and skills they gained through the workshop.

The Japanese Ambassador to Nepal, Kunio Takahashi stated: "UNESCO’s endeavors in preserving such precious heritage is praiseworthy. Japan is very happy to support this joint venture alongside UNESCO".

The workshop was the third and final in the series of capacity building workshop. The first workshop on implementing the 2003 Convention was held in Kathmandu in April 2012 and the second workshop on community based inventorying held in Jiri, Dolakha in January 2013.

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