UNESCO WHIPIC to Host 2022 World Heritage Interpretation and Presentation Forum in Success
The UNESCO WHIPIC (The International Centre for the Interpretation and Presentation of World Heritage Sites under the auspices of UNESCO) held 2022 World Heritage Interpretation and Presentation Forum in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. This event was held for two days (November 15 and 16) with the two themes: Heritage Interpretation for the Sustainable Development, and Theoretical Research on Heritage Interpretation and Presentation:Concepts and Challenges. It was also broadcast live on the WHIPIC’s YouTube Channel. The forum was successful that it welcomed more than 200 audiences at the venue and hit more than 5,000 views online.
15 November (Day 1)
Session1 | Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Development: Efforts and Challenges
Moderator: Sujeong Lee | Head of Research Office, UNESCO WHPIC
Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Development: Efforts and Challenges
Hyeonji Kong | Programme Specialist of Reseaerch Office, UNESCO WHPIC
Interpretating History and Heritage of the Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery
Anan Lucia Araujo | Professor of History, Howard University
Cultural Heritage Interpretation: A Perspective from Latin America
Manuel Gandara Vazquez | Professor, National School of Conservation Restoration and Museography
Integrating Cultural and Natural Heritage
Valerie Magar | Unit Manager, Programmes, ICCROM
Session 2 | World Heritage and Our Future: Capacity Building and Resilience
Moderator: Haeree Shim | Head of Education and Cooperation Office, UNESCO WHPIC
Involvement of Local Community in Heritage Interpretation
Aylin Orbasli | Professor of Architectural and Urban Heritage, Oxford Brookes University
Heritage Interpretation and Climate Change
Rohit Jigyasu | Project Manager of Urban Heritage, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, ICCROM
Heritage Interpretation in Armed Conflict
Peter Stone |Professor of ICCHS, New Castle University UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection & Peace
Heritage Interpretation and Community Well-Being
Ang Ming Chee | General Manager, George Town World Heritage Incorporated
Session 3 | The Roles and Future Directions of UNESCO WHIPIC
Moderator: Neil Silberman | Professor of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Roles and Future Directions of UNESCO WHIPIC
Sujeong Lee | Head of Research Office, UNESCO WHPIC
Gamini Wijesuriya | Senior Advisor, ICCROM
Mario Santana |Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Carleton University Secretary General of ICOMOS
Valerie Magar | Unit Manager, Programmes, ICCROM
On the first day, the first session proceeded with the specific theme of Heritage Interpretation and Sustainable Development: Efforts and Challenges. Ms. Kong, Hyeon-ji(Programme Specialist, UNESCO WHIPIC), emphasised that the uses of term ‘heritage interpretation’ should reflect ‘human-centred approaches’ so that the World Heritage Convention needs more inclusiveness to implement heritage interpretation for sustainable development in the World Heritage system. Prof. Ana Lucia Araujo(Howard University) highlighted lack of interpretation and presentation on the history of slavery, asserting that it is essential to listen to and reflect opinions of communities of the relevant history. Prof. Manuel Gandara(National School of Conservation Restoration and Museography in Mexico) presented the current situation and future missions of Mexican heritage interpretation and shared positive and voluntary activities of local communities interpreting their heritage places and its continuity. Finally, Dr. Valerie Magar(ICCROM) discussed the convergence of natural heritage and cultural heritage, which is a topic that has been an issue continually, and emphasised the importance of integrated interpretation based on the understanding of society members and communities, heritage spaces, and tangible and intangible values with the focus on ‘humans.’
The second session was presented with the specific theme, World Heritage and Our Future: Capacity Building and Resilience. Prof. Aylin Orbasli(Oxford Brooks University) highlighted that the local community’s attachment to places and their values can contribute to forming cultural and social values which are the foundation for a city’s sustainability and resilience. Dr. Rohit Jigyasu(ICCROM) emphasised the necessity of utilizing and defining the traditional knowledge regarding cultural heritage preservation against climate changes, which are now one of the most critical issues. Prof. Peter Stone(UNESCO Chair in Cultural Property Protection & Peace) pointed out that when it comes to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the interpretation on the importance of ‘peace’ and heritage should be practiced in peace times, not during or after war. Finally, Dr. ANG Ming Chee(George Town World Heritage Incorporated) presented positive cases of promoting the well-being of local communities and the harmony of architectural heritage and intangible heritage through the community participatory heritage interpretation entitled George Town Heritage Celebration.
The third session was a panel discussion session with the theme, the Roles and Future Directions of UNESCO WHIPIC. Dr. Lee Sujeong(Head of Research Office, UNESCO WHIPIC), initiated the discussion with a simple overview of future plans for research, informatisation, and capacity building. Prof. Neil Silberman(Massachusetts University Amherst) presented the concepts of interpretation and presentation before discussing the future role and direction of the centre, emphasising that we need to examine the two concepts thoroughly in reflection of various issues and demands in the modern society as well as sustainable development goals. Accordingly, Dr. Gamini Wijesuriya(Senior Advisor to ICCROM) pointed out that it is important to conduct literature reviews on the characteristics of visitors on heritage sites to improve heritage interpretation and traditional conservation methods, and the UNESCO WHIPIC needs put efforts into achieving strategic and policy goals of UNESCO as one of the Category 2 Centre. Prof. Mario Santana Quintero(ICOMOS Secretary General) stated that when it comes to heritage interpretation and presentation, appropriate digital technologies are useful tools to effciently raise awareness of cultural heritage protection and to promote the accessibility, and therefore, the WHIPIC should establish an ethical framework for heritage interpretation and presentation in utilising digital technology in positive ways. Finally, Dr. Valerie Magar(Unit Manager, ICCROM) pointed out that the role of heritage for a healthy society should be made clear when it comes to capacity building and development, and that capacity building plans should be developed based on strategies in full consideration of the governance with social cultural and environmental context respecting the rights of local communities and residents of heritage sites.
The forum on the first day that consisted of 3 sessions came to its end with the meaningful time of examining future challenges for heritage interpretation that will contribute to the sustainable development and the role of the WHIPIC in that process.
On the second day, the academic conference on the concept of interpretation reported theoutcome of the research project,Theoretical Research—Concept and Definition of Heritage Interpretation and Presentation conducted in 2022. Additionally, to establish future plans for principles and guidelines, four leading participant researchers made presentations and four experts participated in the panel discussion.
In the presentation session, Prof. Young-jae Kim(Korea National University of Cultural Heritage) discussed the origin of major concepts of heritage interpretation based on cognitive psychology and Hermeneutics and described how those two concepts has been intergrated into the modern concepts of heritage interpretation based on findings of literature review. Prof. Trinidad Rico(University of Southern California) introduced the details on major discussion topics and methods of the working group meetings, and how we derived conceptual definitions and draft definition sentence oh heritage interpretation. Mr. Namwoong Kim(Programme Specialist, UNESCO WHIPIC) shared some of the findings of the research on heritage presentation methodologies that is in progress separately. He emphasised the importance of heritage presentation as a way to establish connection between people and heritage by communication about values. The final presenter Ms. Anji Kim(Programme Specialist, UNESCO WHIPIC) conducted an international survey to investigate opinions and understandings of the heritage professionals and communities about how they understand and define concepts of heritage interpretation and presentation. It was made clear that there is a general consensus about major keywords of the draft definition sentence by working group, and that the main objectives of heritage interpretation and presentation is “to understand heritages.”
The discussion session had four panelists discussing governance for the definition of interpretation, the necessity of distinguishing between interpretation and heritage interpretation, considerations about diversity, and the need of ethical approaches and definition for uses. Based on the results of the discussion session, in-depth research will be conducted on concepts of heritage interpretation and presentation in the following year. To present principles and guidelines as the mid-term goals, important aspects and challenges that the WHIPIC should consider also were derived.
This two-day forum was a wonderful opportunity for heritage professionals and communities to discuss more needs of heritage interpretation policies and share their opinions each other. The UNESCO WHIPIC will continue to put efforts into heritage interpretation and presentation policies and activities reflecting international demands gathered through annual academic forums.