A three day capacity building and training sessions for the nomination of World Heritage sites in the African region is expected to conclude in Monrovia. The initiative is organized by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism, in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and World Heritage Center (WHC).
The program focuses on needs assessment for Liberia’s update of tentative list, including East Nimba Natural Reserve (ENNR); Gola Rainforest (Lofa- Mano National Park); Sapo National Park; and Kpatawee Waterfall, the training sessions started on Wednesday, June 29 at the National Museum, Broad Street and will end on July 1, 2022.
Mr. Lance K. Gbagonyon Deputy Minister for Cultural Affairs & Tourism giving the purpose of the program, said in 2021, the Government of Japan sign an agreement with UNESCO to support the “Capacity Building Program for Nomination of World Heritage Sites in the Africa Region”, which he said aims to support 10 countries in the Africa region without inscribed properties (Burundi, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Sudan) to develop strong and credible nomination dossiers.
He told the gathering, “This four-year program (June 2021-June 2025) for the nomination of World Heritage sites in the African region aims to build the capacity of African heritage experts to increase the number of African sites inscribed on the World Heritage list, while ensuring that current and future African World Heritage properties remain in a satisfactory state of conversation.”
The Deputy Minister added that the main objective of the program is to improve the representation of the African region on the World Heritage list by developing strong nomination dossiers for non-represented States Parties, and to build the capacity of local heritage practitioners in heritage conversation and management.
To train at least three (3) local heritage practitioners to strengthen their capacities in nomination, conversation and management; create a national inter-ministerial committee for heritage; update the tentative list of Liberia; develop a complete and solid nomination file; sensitize stakeholders decision makers, local communities, youth and women, ect to the value benefits of protecting and promoting their natural and cultural heritage, including their (potential) world heritage sites, he stated.
Speaking further, Mr. Gbagonyon explained that under the objectives the following activities have been carried out: Local heritage practitioners trained to strengthen their capacities in the nomination, conversation and management: “Improving Management Effectiveness in African World Heritage which was held online from 17 to 24 January 2022. Promoted by UNESCO, ICCROM, and the World Heritage Leadership Program the course consisted of a total of 6 online sessions and assignments for a total of 18 hours of in class participation. It corresponds to the first of 3 phases of the capacity building program “Improving Management Effectiveness in African World Heritage”
Mr. Gbagonyon, proxy of the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism, Ledgerhood J. Rennie thanked the UNESCO team in Nigeria for the support. He said to achieve the objective of the program, the government has a cultural working groups including private sector, and international partners. “Conservation is everyone business, if we have site for Liberia listed on the world heritage site, it will be a boost for Liberia’s cultural and tourism sector that will attract visitors and tourists.
Also working with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) to provide alternative livelihood for people living in protected areas, he remarked.
Mr. Stevenson Seidi, National Program Director, UNESCO, said Liberia has missed out on many things because of the delay in ratifying cultural convention agreements that stand to benefit the cultural and tourism sector of Liberia, saying “We can find out how we can move forward to push as much as we can that our voices reach the Legislature. Today Liberia can not miss out on these opportunity of cultural heritage to ratify these conventions”, he emphasized.
Mr. Stevenson Seidi was followed by Mr. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director of World Heritage Centre, Paris, Chief of African Unit, who said his institution is ready to follow recommendations in supporting the program, to the promotion of Liberia’s heritage, adding that by consented efforts the initiative can become a success.
Also remarking at the program, Dr. Annika Hiller, Country Director, World Chimpanzee,, said Liberia has a very special features which are very preserving and necessary for scientific research and added that World Chimpanzee is ready to give its support to the initiative.
” It is something that we all need to do together. We need to ensure the forest survive, by this we can bring benefits to the communities, and the country at large. We all need to work together to reduce the illegal activities in the communities to make a wonderful achievement, Liberia”, she said in her remarked.
The UNESCO’s Cultural Conventions to be ratified includes, Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003; Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property 1970; Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005
Others are Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001; Protocol to the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific or Cultural Materials, with Annexes A to H 1976; Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed conflict 1954; and Second Protocol to the Hague Convention of 1954 for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict 1999.
Reported by: Stephen G. Fellajuah