02.04.2011 - UNESCO Office in Apia

Networking for ICH Safeguarding in the Pacific

Meeting participants(c)Tonga NATCOM

Strategy and Action Plan for ICH Safeguarding in the Pacific agreed upon at the Subregional Networking Meeting on the ICH Safeguarding in the Pacific held at the Tonga National Cultural Centre from 29-30 March 2011

The Sub-Regional Networking Meeting on the ICH Safeguarding in the Pacific aimed to advance action on the implementation of the 2003 Convention in the Pacific region.  Amongst the guests of honors, Lord Vaea, Ministerfor Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Fisheries and the President of the Tonga Traditions Committee.

At the opening session, Hon. Dr 'AnaTaufe'ulungaki, the Honorable Minister of Education, Women's Affairs and Culture and the President of the UNESCO National Commission for Tonga, gave the keynote address, calling for the ICH safeguarding for future generations.  "Intangible Cultural Heritage, or Living Heritage, is the mainspring of humanity's cultural diversity and its maintenance guarantees continuing creativity", told the Minister the audience. "If we are to make a meaningful contribution to this Meeting, then one of our primary purposes is to reclaim not only Pacific knowledge and values for our Pacific peoples and their communities, but also the processes and vehicles in which they are transmitted."  Hon. Dr Taufe'ulungaki said that ICH including songs, music, drama, skills and crafts can only be transmitted through people or "Living Treasures".  She urged government and communities to promote awareness of ICH safeguarding through public education and training programmes.

During this two-day Meeting supported by ICHCAP, the paricipants from Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and PNG made country presentations on the progress of ICH safeguarding in each country.  Although the countries are at different stages in terms of ICH safeguarding, a number of positive progresses have been reported, such as the endorsement by the legal office of the country's ratification (Cook Islands), the designation of ICH focal point at the line Ministry (Fiji), the upgrading of a culture unit to a culture division and the implementation of cultural mapping project (Tonga), the implementation of inventory making in pilot provinces (PNG). etc. 

The close links between Pacific ICH and traditional knowledge in agriculture, environment management and also disaster preparedness were highlighted at the Meeting.  The experts further discussed cooperative efforts necessary for strategic actions at the regional level. The field visit to the workshops for Tapa making by women's group and a village with traditional multiple cropping agriculture system helped the participants put unique ICH elements in the real context to better understand and appreciate the ICH of the country. 





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