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ICHCAP Webinar Series on Maritime ICH

Maritime Living Heritage in the ICHCAP Webinar

By Athena Trakadas, co-Chair ODHN

On October 29-30, 2020, the International Information and Networking Center for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia Pacific Region under the Auspices of UNESCO (ICHCAP) and the UNESCO Apia office hosted the webinar: “Maritime Living Heritage: Building Sustainable Livelihood and Ecosystems in the Asia-Pacific Region.” ODHN presented the webinar’s keynote speech, “Maritime Living Heritage and the Decade of Ocean Science”.

The Concept note for the webinar made it clear that ICH plays a key role in the Decade’s inclusion of social sciences and human dimensions:

“The Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH recognizes the importance of ICH as a guarantee of sustainable development, as well as a means of promoting cultural diversity. In an expansive view of ICH as a body of knowledge, belief systems, and practices which pertain to those found on embodied on land as well as those exercised in connection to different bodies of water, maritime cultural heritage is defined in this webinar series as natural resources, traditional customs, archeological sites, and established locality thoughts that form cultural practices of coastal communities.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development constitutes a plan of action addressing three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – through 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, Goal 14 focuses on the preservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Significantly, traditional knowledge of coastal communities is perceived to have a potential in achieving this.

Recalling the cross-cutting role of ocean science in Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) has been endorsed to suggest that ‘Ocean Science’ should be interpreted broadly as encompassing: social sciences and human dimensions. To this end the Decade is designed to facilitate global communication and mutual learning across research and stakeholder communities.” (Webinar concept note, p. 1)

Ten presentations were divided into two sessions, which, along with the keynote, can be viewed on You Tube:

Day 1: “Traditional maritime skills and knowledge for inclusive social and economic development”

Day 2: “Traditional maritime skills and knowledge for environmental sustainability and resilience”

Presentations focused on coastal and lake fisheries and lifeways, including associated industries such as salt production and boatbuilding. These also touched upon traditional marine ecosystem management, settlements, ceremonies, festivals and women’s roles. Many of these presentations included illuminating videos. Geographical coverage extended from Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Micronesia, Samoa, Japan to India.

In all, this webinar illustrates the dynamic human dimension that is an inescapable part of the Decade. It is important, as many presenters pointed out, to remember how Maritime Living Heritage is threatened by climate change, modernisation, pollution and industrialisation. This over-arching message has special resonance in these times of a global pandemic when access to resources is limited.