Outlined during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Convention in Seoul, Republic of Korea, on 25-26 July 2023, the Seoul Vision takes stock of 20 years of implementation of the Convention and presents a set of concrete actions required to unleash the power of living heritage to ensure sustainable development and peace for enhancing solidarity and inclusion, for preserving biodiversity and oceans, and for responding to health, social and economic crises.
Our vision: Unleashing the power of living heritage for sustainable development and peace
• Now is the time to unleash the power of living heritage for ensuring sustainable development and peace for enhancing solidarity and inclusion, for preserving biodiversity and oceans, and for responding to health, social and economic crises. Now is the time to recognize culture as a global public good, as underlined in the MONDIACULT Declaration adopted by 150 States at the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development, and, with it, acknowledge the importance of living heritage cutting across every dimension of sustainability. Now is the time for culture, including living heritage, to be recognized not only as a fundamental right, but also as a key pillar of sustainability on its own.
• We recall that intangible cultural heritage is created and recreated by communities who practice and transmit it and is inseparable from their social, cultural, and economic lives. Over the next 20 years, we must bring to the forefront the voices of the community members, for them to convey and share contextually relevant solutions and strengthen their active participation at national and international levels. This will help ensure that sustainable development agendas truly harness the power of living heritage to achieve our common goals.
• We recognize that the intersection between living heritage and economic development is complex and multifaceted (SDG 2, 5, 8, 11), and that economic activity can have both positive and negative effects on living heritage safeguarding, as well as on the livelihoods of practitioners and communities. The knowledge, skills, and practices which local communities have maintained, transmitted, and enhanced over generations, has the potential to provide livelihoods for many people and can generate revenue and decent work, including for people of different ages and genders, and indigenous peoples.
• We reaffirm the central role that living heritage can play in tackling the pressing global environmental challenges facing our lives and the planet, in not only providing time-tested solutions, but in shaping and reaffirming our relationship to the natural world. Living heritage expressions foster values of respect, custodianship and reciprocity towards nature and promote awareness and understanding of the diverse value systems and concepts that local communities have in relation to the natural world.• We recognize that living heritage is a powerful resource we can harness to address the current global learning crisis, where education systems struggle to meet the expectations and needs of the next generation. Living heritage can make a significant contribution to improving the quality and relevance of education, fostering appreciation for cultural diversity and contributing to education for peace, global citizenship and sustainable development.
• We acknowledge the ground-breaking impact of digital technologies on people’s lives and their intangible cultural heritage, both posing new threats and providing new opportunities for its continued transmission to future generations. We underline that in this regard, addressing rights and ethics issues in the changing digital space is important. We also believe that as hate speech and expressions of racism and xenophobia circulate rapidly on the Internet, the power of living heritage to foster respect for diversity and celebrate differences can be and should be harnessed as a countering force connecting rather than dividing people around the globe.
• We are convinced that intangible cultural heritage safeguarding needs to engage all stakeholders and policy areas – within and beyond the culture sector. This involves state authorities, local governments, civil society organizations, international organizations, and the private sector. Joint action and tailored responses can considerably enhance the present and the future of living heritage safeguarding and ensure that it is leveraged for improving people’s lives.
• In the next 20 years, we envision that, with renewed efforts and joint action from all stakeholders, the role of intangible cultural heritage as a driver of sustainable development will be firmly established and fully integrated into national development plans, policies and programmes at all levels, recognizing at the same time the interdependence between the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development, peace and human security.