Cross-border cooperation for the safeguarding of intangible heritage in Italy and Switzerland

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From 8 to 12 June, the Lombardy region (Italy) and the canton of Graubünden (Switzerland) hosted a training workshop on the implementation of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Tirano (province of Sondrio, Italy) and Poschiavo (Switzerland), demonstrating the increasing awareness in Europe of the need for capacity-building to better safeguard living heritage.

Bringing together 25 participants, including representatives of the local administration, civil society, tradition bearers, academia and professionals from the tourism and environment sectors, the workshop introduced fundamental objectives and concepts of the 2003 Convention and enhanced the understanding of participants about obligations and safeguarding activities involved in implementing the Convention at national and local levels. Combining four days of presentations, discussions and exercises, as well as one day of fieldwork in the terraced vineyards of Valtellina, the workshop also addressed linkages between the 2003 Convention, the Convention concerning the protection of the World cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Convention, 1972) and the Convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions (2005).

The workshop specifically highlighted the importance of cross-border cooperation in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and of cooperation across sectors directly and indirectly impacting the viability of living heritage.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and its INTERREG mechanism supporting interregional cooperation and sustainable regional development across Europe, the training workshop was held within the framework of the project ‘Italo-Swiss Ethnography for the Promotion of Intangible Heritage’ initiated by the region of Lombardy. Conducted in Italian by a UNESCO-trained facilitator and an international law expert, and based on UNESCO’s global capacity-building programme and training materials, the activity was organized by the Regional Agency for Services to Agricultural and Forestry (Italy) and the Association for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Italy).

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