03.06.2014 - Culture Sector

Best Safeguarding Practices of living heritage

© 2005 Felipe Varanda

Intangible cultural heritage is a mainspring of cultural diversity and a guarantee of sustainable development. More than 160 countries around the world have agreed that safeguarding this heritage is our universal will and common concern and have ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Convention celebrates communities’ efforts to transmit practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills from generation to generation.  It provides a unique opportunity to discover and sustain living cultural expressions from across the globe, expressions that are vital to social cohesion and to sustainable development.

One of the Convention’s tools for international cooperation is the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, established in accordance with Article 18 of the Convention. The Register allows communities faced with the challenge of safeguarding their own intangible cultural heritage to learn from the effective safeguarding initiatives of other communities.

Each year, based on proposals submitted by States Parties that have ratified the Convention, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage selects and promotes programmes, projects and activities that in its view best reflect the Convention’s principles and objectives. Since 2009, eleven Best Safeguarding Practices have been selected for the Register.

To help communities elsewhere learn from the experience of some of these selected projects, UNESCO published two on-line publications, aimed at providing information about how the projects came into being, what methodologies they employed, and what impacts they have had. Each publication is accompanied by a 15-minute video and a shorter 3-minute video allowing viewers to see and experience the safeguarding practice in action.

Fandango’s Living Museum

Conserving nature or sustaining culture? How can communities go about safeguarding their heritage in a protected natural environment? In Brazil, the solution for the Caiçaras was to create a ‘living museum’ of their fandango, music and dance expression.  In cooperation with the Caburé Cultural Association, they have revitalized their heritage through this unique project.

Education and training in Indonesian batik intangible cultural heritage in Pekalongan, Indonesia

How can communities today reconcile modern schooling and heritage education? In Indonesia, leaders of a ‘batik town’ have initiated the integration of batik-making in school curricula. With teachers and batik practitioners, young people enjoy learning about their heritage, letting their creativity blossom. 

Further information on all eleven best practices selected to date can be found at:




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