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Joining Hands for Rural Revitalisation through Culture and Heritage
2022-03-10 ICCSD

Launch of UNESCO - China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund "Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China" Phase IV (2021-2024)

In the morning of 15 October 2021, the UNESCO - China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund "Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China" Phase III Achievement Release and Phase IV Launching meeting took place in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Guizhou Province. The meeting was co-hosted by Songtao Miao Autonomous County Government, Suzhou Art and Design Technology Institute and Tongren Municipal Bureau of Culture, Sport, Broadcasting and Tourism, and supported by the Guizhou Province Culture and Tourism Department, and Tongren Municipal People's Government.

The "Conservation and Management of World Heritage Sites in China" project has gone through three phases since its initiation in 2007. While continuing and consolidating key activities in Phase III, Phase IV (2021-2024) strongly aligns with the three priorities -- People and Prosperity, Planet, Partnerships -- in the 2021-2025 United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for China, China's strategic focus on rural revitalisation during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, and relevant targets in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The project aims to provide solid evidence in elaborating culture's enabling role in promoting sustainable economic, social and environmental development in China, and to consolidate good practices and case studies that could be shared and adapted on an international scale.

Professor Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Office, mentioned in his opening remarks that 2021 is a year of new beginnings. It is the first year that China is free from extreme poverty and the opening of the 14th Five-Year Plan. At the same time, world stands at a critical moment to deliver on 2030 Agenda due to the global pandemic. More than ever, we need the power of culture to overcome these challenges. Professor Khan also expressed gratitude towards the 15 years of committed support of China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund, and jointly unveiled the plaque of recognition.

Mr. Wei Bo, Director of Development Division of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Department of Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ms. Xiao Li, Director of World Heritage Division, Department for the Protection of Monuments and Sites (Department of World Cultural Heritage), National Cultural Heritage Administration, Ms. He Lu, Deputy Director of Natural Park Division (Natural Heritage Management Division), Department of Natural Protected Areas Management, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Mr. Zhang Yong, Director of Guizhou Province Cultural Heritage Administration, Ms. Yang Yun, Party Group Member and Vice Mayor ofTongren Municipality Tongren Municipal People's Government, and Ms. Liao Dongmei, Deputy County Governor of Songtao Miao Autonomous County, attended the meeting and delivered opening remarks.

During the meeting, Professor Khan also jointly launched the China World Heritage Capacity Building Manuals publication series with partner agencies, experts and site representatives. As a key output of Phase III, this publication series is built upon solid research by leading institutions and experts, and years of experience accumulated from field-based pilot activities in collaboration with World Heritage sites, living heritage bearers and local communities. It shall provide potential reference and guidance for the community of over 46,000 heritage conservation and management professionals in China, and will inspire new conversations and explorations on culture and sustainable development.

In the "Heritage Conservation for Rural Revitalization Forum" that followed, experts from Guizhou Province Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding Centre, Suzhou Art and Design Technology Institute, Sun Yat-sen University, Communication University of China, Beijing Normal University and International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation engaged in a constructive dialogue on promoting rural revitalisation through culture and heritage in the new era via a variety of perspectives, including living heritage safeguarding, heritage education, creative communication, youth participation, indicator application, carbon neutrality and green development. Representatives from sustainable livelihood pilot sites during Phase III, including Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, Shilin, Chishui and Songtao, also shared their sustainable livelihood achievements and future prospects.

Alongside the meeting, participants viewed the Phase III achievement photograph exhibition and sustainable livelihood products exhibition, and appreciated a creative music and dance performance of Miao ethnicity. In addition to announcing the achievements of Phase III and the launching of Phase IV, this meeting also strengthened the direct dialogue platform between policymakers, experts, site managers, living heritage bearers and the private sectors that are brought together through the project, and laid a solid foundation for the smooth implementation of Phase IV activities.