Photo of Kuwaiti calligrapher Mr Jassim Meraj
© Jassim Meraj, Kuweit, 2017
10 February 2022

Eight years have gone by since the previous IOS Evaluation and during this period, the 2003 Convention has witnessed important reform efforts. It was therefore timely to take stock of achievements and challenges and to inform future actions of UNESCO’s support to Member States in the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

The main purpose of this 2021 evaluation was to generate findings, lessons learned, and recommendations regarding the relevance and effectiveness of UNESCO’s action in the framework of the 2003 Convention.

The evaluation found that as the second youngest UNESCO Culture Convention, the 2003 Convention has been one of the most successful, especially because it has succeeded in raising awareness of the distinct nature and importance of living heritage. This can be largely attributed to UNESCO’s vast capacity building programme. It has indeed expanded its delivery through partners such as Category 2 Centres and commenced its outreach into new fields such as education and emergencies. The International Assistance mechanism has also provided financial and technical support to nearly 40 countries, largely prioritizing Africa, and has achieved some significant results. Finally, States Parties are being supported with the collection of valuable data on national implementation measures through the revised system of periodic reporting and guided by the Overall Results Framework.

At the same time, the evaluation shows that 2003 Convention has been a victim of its own success. States Parties’ multinational nominations, requests for International Assistance, and calls for statutory meetings are growing at a steady rate. It considers that the most pressing challenge for the 2003 Convention Secretariat - the Living Heritage Entity is to respond to rising statutory requests (more nominations files, meetings, reports and new procedures), all while providing much needed capacity building support to States Parties and continuing to work on raising awareness of ICH among the broader public. Strategic decisions on priorities will therefore need to be made in the near future.

The evaluation makes 12 recommendations, primarily to the Living Heritage Entity, and the implementation of the first recommendation is a prerequisite for the others:

  1. Establish priorities for the use of the limited resources of the 2003 Convention Secretariat.
  2. Reflect on the use of data from periodic reports and make it widely available.
  3. Approach thematic areas (commercialization, tourism…) with a multi-Convention response.
  4. Sharpen the scope of the Living Heritage and Education Programme.
  5. Continue promoting International Assistance beyond traditional ICH expert circles.
  6. Strengthen project design, monitoring and reporting guided by the Overall Results Framework.
  7. Strengthen the facilitators network for the delivery of the global capacity building programme.
  8. Pursue adapting capacity building to a hybrid modality (online and in-person training).
  9. Develop a system of continuous support to States Parties in periodic reporting.
  10. Provide an ICH knowledge management platform on safeguarding measures.
  11. Explore new avenues for communication and outreach targeting the public and youth.
  12. Introduce bilateral planning and regular exchange sessions with Category 2 Centres

The full evaluation report is available in English and French.

Find out more on evaluations, audits, and governance in the framework of the 2003 Convention here .

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