World Heritage site management integrated with community development


The workshop delegates in a souvenir photograph after the opening ceremony

The four-day gathering, inaugurated by the Minister for Tourism and Culture Alain St Ange, was attended by delegates from Unesco Dar es Salaam, Mauritius, Madagascar, Maldives, Comoros, Kenya and Dominica, besides culture, art and tourism officials from Seychelles.

According to Unesco, small island developing states are a special case for environment and development, being ecologically fragile and vulnerable. Their small size, limited resources, geographical dispersion and isolation from markets place them at a disadvantage economically and prevent economies of scale.

However, Unesco views Sids as being among the richest places on earth in terms of ecosystems, pristine landscapes, endemic species, cultural traditions and heritage sites.

Mr St Ange said the workshop represents a golden opportunity to take the Indian Ocean Island Developing States’ concerns to international gatherings or decision makers through Unesco.

He noted that this is the third Unesco workshop this year and this proves the dynamic and successful partnership between Seychelles and the UN organisation.

“Like many Sids, Seychelles is home to a wealth of linguistic and biological diversity.  Nevertheless, as a small island nation, we are at risk, so is our heritage. The last 15 years have witnessed the continued expansion of global threats to which we are particularly vulnerable,” Mr St Ange said.

Mr St Ange said these include climate change, inequalities in trade and finance and the erosion of biological and cultural diversity.

To respond to these growing challenges as small states we must rely on our cultures.
He noted that Seychelles launched its cultural strategic plan 2011-2015 in April last year as the instrument  that not only promotes culture as a natural asset , but also as one that can deliver wide ranging  public benefits such as economic growth, attracting tourism and providing sustainable foundation for the renewal of local areas, encouraging a sense of citizenship and building community spirit.

“Henceforth, we are now more compelled to take bold steps to make fundamental readjustments that will enable culture to take its rightful place in the sustainable economic development of  Seychelles.”

Mr St Ange said the population is now much more aware of culture and culture issues than before and as a result of that, their expectations have also increased.

Similarly, the level of cultural consciousness and the realisation of the potential of culture to impact positively on programmes in numerous fields, have spread within many organisations.

“As small island developing states, we share similar interests and concerns. Let us avail of the opportunity afforded to us by Unesco to share information, experiences and best practices,” he said.

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