From Hawai‘i to Delhi: IUCN Congress Nature-Culture Journey continues at ICOMOS General Assembly

The “Journey” highlighting the interconnectedness of nature and culture, which began at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawai‘i, USA, continues this week at the triennial General Assembly of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), taking place in Delhi, India. IUCN and ICOMOS – both advisory bodies on World Heritage – will launch a report on the joint project, Connecting Practice, which explores new methods and practical strategies for recognising the connection between natural and cultural heritage in World Heritage sites.

Jointly coordinated by IUCN and ICOMOS with a range of partners, the Culture-Nature Journey presents delegates at the ICOMOS 19th General Assembly and Scientific Symposium a mix of sessions addressing the interconnected character of cultural and natural heritage, as an issue of growing importance to conservation globally and locally.   You can follow the Journey on Twitter using @culturenature17 or follow discussions on the hashtag #CultureNature.

Culture-Nature, or Nature-Culture, is an approach to heritage that has emerged based on the understanding that relationships between people and the natural environment have worked to shape both our physical environment and belief systems. It embraces the complexity of our heritage, which includes biological resources, genes, landscapes, geological diversity, cultural places and practices, and traditional knowledge systems. Delegates of the Nature-Culture Journey at IUCN's World Conservation Congress in 2016 issued a statement of commitments around this theme, Mālama Honua – to care for our island Earth, which is available in six languages.

As part of the Culture-Nature Journey in Delhi, IUCN and ICOMOS – two Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention, on nature and culture respectively – are presenting findings from the joint project Connecting Practice. Supported by The Christensen Fund, with contributions from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the initiative aims to address the divide often observed between natural and cultural heritage conservation practice.

A report, Connecting Practice project: Phase II, presents the results achieved, lessons learned and challenges encountered in the implementation of the second phase of the project. Lessons learnt from the first phase, which focused on three World Heritage sites, have been translated into practical interventions to achieve a better understanding of the interconnected character of the natural, cultural and social values of these places.

In Phase II, field visits were carried out in two World Heritage sites: the Cultural Landscape of Hortobágy National Park - the Puszta (Hungary) and the mixed site of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park (South Africa/Lesotho). Connecting Practice also reports on how to adapt the Enhancing Our Heritage (EoH) Toolkit, a natural heritage management effectiveness methodology, to cultural heritage sites.

Also being presented is the new World Heritage Leadership Programme, which aims to improve the conservation and management practices for culture and nature through the work of the World Heritage Convention, as an integral component of the contribution of World Heritage sites to sustainable development. Funded by Norway, the project is implemented by IUCN and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) also an advisory body on World Heritage,  in collaboration with ICOMOS and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.

The ICOMOS General Assembly and Scientific Symposium is taking place from 11 to 15 December 2017, gathering some 1,500 delegates from across the globe.

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