Two single-outigger canoes from Lamotrek Island at sea on a voyage from Guam to Lamotrek Read more on the element
© Eric Metzgar (USA), Micronesia, 2016

In line with the Operational Directives for the implementation of the Convention (Chapter VI) and the Committee’s decisions (Decisions 15.COM 8, 16.COM 5.b and 17.COM 13) underlining the importance of highlighting the contributions of living heritage to sustainable development, the Secretariat has been developing since 2021 the following thematic initiatives to develop a comprehensive approach to intangible cultural heritage safeguarding and sustainable development:

  • Economic dimensions of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding;
  • Cultural heritage and climate change;
  • Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in urban contexts.

These initiatives are also in line with

  • The Final Declaration of the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development (MONDIACULT 2022), which highlights the new impetus given to the role of culture for sustainable development, as a force for resilience, social inclusion and cohesion, environmental protection and sustainable and inclusive growth.
  • The New Delhi Leaders Declaration of 2023 notes the importance of addressing the impacts of over commercialization and misappropriation of living heritage on sustainability and livelihoods.
  • The 2023 Seoul Vision for the Future of Safeguarding Living Heritage for Sustainable Development and Peace which calls for the implementation of ‘heritage-sensitive economic approaches and safeguarding measures’ that harness living heritage for improving the sustainable livelihoods of communities, while fostering continued practice and transmission of their cultural heritage in a meaningful and appropriate way.

Economic dimensions of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding

Economic activities linked with the practice of living heritage can generate income for communities, groups and individuals concerned, and support livelihoods and decent work in the local economy. This can also support practice and transmission of living heritage, thus fostering safeguarding and social cohesion. However, communities have also experienced some negative impacts and identified possible risks associated with some kinds of economic activities. These can affect the viability of intangible cultural heritage and/or lead to inequitable benefit for communities. Many communities thus seek ways to maximize the positive effects of economic activities on living heritage safeguarding and sustainable development, while mitigating the potential negative impacts on the viability of living heritage. Other stakeholders could assist them in this process, while communities would continue to play the primary role in safeguarding their living heritage.

Kolo, traditional folk dance Read more on the element
© Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, 2011

Towards the development of a Guidance Note

In December 2019, the Committee of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, requested that the Secretariat prepare a Guidance Note for communities, and States Parties concerning ‘the safeguarding measures and good practices that address the risk of decontextualization and over-commercialization of elements’ of intangible cultural heritage. Addressing these risks and threats needs to be part of broader community-led safeguarding strategies that support equitable benefit and sustainable development. The Guidance Note aims to enhance understanding and identify areas for future actions in the framework of the 2003 Convention.

  • Initial preparation

In 2021 and early 2022, the Secretariat undertook a series of actions including a review of the normative framework, the existing literature and the development of an initial set of case studies from different regions around the world.

  • Global Survey

A global survey was launched at the beginning of October 2022 and addressed to more than 1,000 stakeholders of the Convention, including national authorities, accredited non-governmental organizations, category 2 centres and community contact persons for elements inscribed on the Lists. The aim of the survey was to collect opinions, experiences and examples relating to economic dimensions of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding.

  • Expert meeting

To prepare the Guidance Note, a Category VI expert meeting were convened in two parts, during September and October 2023. For more information on this meeting, please refer to the dedicated page: