04 Nov 2014


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In May 2014, the project ‘Strengthening the capacities of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, StEustatius, St. Maarten and Suriname to implement the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage’ was launched in the Dutch Caribbean islands and Suriname, with the support of a contribution from the Government of the Netherlands to the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund at UNESCO. This project follows on from the 2013 meeting held in Aruba, which assessed the needs and requirements for jointly and individually implementing the 2003 Convention.

The first of two joint trainings was held at the Divi Little Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, from 8-12 September 2014, and focused on the requirements for the successful implementation of the Convention at the national level in the Dutch Caribbean sub-region. Over 30 participants from Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten, in addition to observers from Anguilla, Belize and Jamaica received training as part of UNESCO’s global capacity building strategy to safeguard intangible heritage and for its sustainable use. The joint training also provided the opportunity for participants to share their experiences and challenges with implementation at the sub-regional level, while learning from the successes of each other.

National consultations are a critical component of this project and are foreseen in all specified countries to sensitize and to bring together this diverse group of stakeholders responsible for safeguarding their heritage and implementing relevant policy. To date, Curacao and Sint Maarten have undertaken their national meetings with 15-30 persons from each island participating in these consultations. Consultations are currently being planned for Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius in the latter part of 2014.

Another joint island training will be held in Curacao in February 2015, and will provide training on the inventorying of intangible heritage, later progressing to a field inventorying pilot project in all the islands.

The State Party of Suriname is presently working towards the ratification of the 2003 Convention, and so a national training on ratification and implementation is also planned within the framework of this project.

The project will be implemented from 2014-2016, after which it is expected that the capacities of all the islands will be further developed to sufficiently and successfully implement the Convention through the development and implementation of policies for the safeguarding and inventorying of this heritage, as well as undertake inventorying practices and projects that will ensure the safeguarding of this heritage for future generations, particularly those in danger of being lost to humankind.

The project is being implemented by the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, with the support of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Section of UNESCO, National Commissions for UNESCO in the various countries as well as national and local stakeholders and institutions.


Participants/observers at the joint training (St Maarten)© St Maarten National Commission for UNESCO

Participants/observers at the joint training (St Maarten)© St Maarten National Commission for UNESCO

For more information, please contact : Andrea Richards, Project Coordinator UNESCO Kingston Office (a.richards@unesco.org)