Co-organized by the UNESCO Living Heritage Entity and the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe based in Sofia, Bulgaria, the meeting took place on September 5 and 6, 2023, at the Small Basilica in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The Roman Small Basilica of Philippopolis with its Roman mosaics dating back to the 5th century AD offered a very nice historic and festive backdrop to the meeting.
The gathering served as an invaluable platform for the Category 2 Centres (C2C) to exchange experiences, discuss challenges, and pave the way for strengthening future collaborations. This was especially important as some of the Centres have been active for over a decade, while others just recently joined the network.
Hosted by the Regional Centre in Sofia to mark the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Convention and the 10th anniversary of the first C2C meeting, which was held in 2013 in Sozopol, Bulgaria, the enriching two-day exchange allowed each participating centre to highlight its main achievements and to showcase their ongoing activities in line with UNESCO’s priorities, including capacity building efforts, a focus on global priorities such as intangible cultural heritage and education, and contributions to other thematic areas.
Discussions also underscored several common challenges, including the need for increased visibility at the national level, funding instability, legal obstacles, and difficulties in engaging Member States. Participants acknowledged the necessity of strengthening information exchange among centres and their pivotal relationship with UNESCO.
Collaborative opportunities among the C2C were identified in areas such as supporting periodic reporting, promoting intangible cultural heritage and education, addressing climate change, enhancing safeguarding practices, exploring synergies between tangible and intangible heritage, promoting foodways, engaging with youth, and sharing information to enhance the visibility of all centres.