ICH safeguarding practices program for the cultural and ecologic Sea Turtle Festival of Armila


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Selected in 2023 on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

© Micultura, 2021

For centuries, the people of Armila, Panama have lived in harmony with their natural environment and local fauna, a relationship that is embodied in oral traditions. In response to the decreasing transmission of these oral traditions, and to strengthen the artisanal practices and ritual expressions, dances and music associated with nature, local authorities and the communities implements a safeguarding programme centred around the organization of an educational festival. The four-day event coincides with the arrival of the large leatherback turtles, a key element of local narratives, and includes neighbouring communities. It is an opportunity to understand the communities’ traditions and relationship with the sea and the natural environment. The safeguarding programme is based on the inclusion of educational elements within cultural festivals, and the combination of content related to nature, the universe and oral traditions. One of its objectives and achievements has been the creation of an ‘intangible cultural heritage green seal’ for festivals that implement environmentally-friendly practices. It has also led to the revival of tales about the turtles and other oral traditions, particularly among children. The model has influenced festivals and festivities throughout Panama and can be adapted to festivals in other countries.