A message from Francesco Bandarin to the IFLA Congress

A message to the IFLA Congress, Turin, 18-22 April, 2016-04-17

Francesco Bandarin

UNESCO Assistant Director- General for Culture

Dear colleagues and friends of IFLA

The 53th IFLA Congress falls in a particularly important moment for the development of international policies aimed to protect the environment, foster sustainable development, preserve and protect the quality of urban and landscape areas.

Just a few month ago, with approval of Agenda 2030, the International Community has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, setting the targets it intends to achieve in the next 15 years. Many of these goals address basic human needs, such as health, education, food, still not properly addressed in many parts of the world.   But many other goals address the issue of sustainability, of balanced development, of environmental protection, of people oriented urban development. These are enormous challenges, in a world characterised by rapid urban expansion, vast migratory processes, overuse of resources, and also- unfortunately- by devastating conflicts.

And yet, this is the collective challenge, one that concern all of us, institutions and individuals, societies and communities.

UNESCO and IFLA have a longstanding cooperation in areas that are central to the achievements of these strategic objectives. In the field of heritage protection, both tangible and intangible, we have developed in the past many common visions and policies, and have joined hands in initiatives and programs. We always considered this partnership as a key dimension of our action, one that enriches and strengthens our mission and contributes to the establishment of important and innovative policies.

For many years, we have collaborated in the promotion of Cultural Landscapes as a fundamental heritage category of the World Heritage Convention. Since its establishment, the Intangible Heritage Convention has recognised landscapes as a result of the traditional knowledge of local communities.  All this has contributed to shape the international policies for landscape protection that are adopted in many countries of the world, and also defined by a Regional Convention, the 2000 European Landscape Convention.

In the past years, we have also collaborated in the preparation of a new UNESCO normative instrument, the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, an innovative ‘soft law’ text that has opened new perspectives for the conservation and protection of urban heritage. UNESCO will present this October in Quito at the Habitat III Conference the developments of its policies in the area of sustainable urban development, 5 years after the adoption of the Recommendation.

UNESCO and IFLA have also strived to strengthen the international normative framework for the protection of landscapes. We have supported the development of regional initiatives such as the one launched in Latin America, and the idea of regional conventions that could, like the European Landscape Convention, address the specific needs of every region for the safeguarding of their landscapes. We believe that the regional approach promoted and developed by IFLA is the most effective way to address this complex issue, in full respect of the cultural diversities and aspirations of all regional partners. We look forward to the development of these initiatives and stand ready to continue our collaboration in this strategic field of cultural and environmental policy-making.