In Small Island Developing States, intangible cultural heritage is particularly vital to their existence and a mainspring of sustainable development in the context of accelerating socioeconomic transformations and global environmental changes.
In 2005, the Mauritius Declaration and Mauritius Strategy identified culture as an integral element in the promotion of sustainable development. On that occasion, the SIDS countries committed themselves to “developing measures to protect the natural, tangible and intangible cultural heritage and increase resources for the development and strengthening of national and regional cultural initiatives”.
UNESCO’s activities for SIDS in the field of intangible cultural heritage are guided by that Strategy and by the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO is assisting SIDS in developing integrated heritage policies, improving safeguarding measures for intangible cultural heritage and enhancing capacities for sustainable management of intangible heritage while strengthening international cooperation.
The following projects and meetings provide examples and lessons learnt in safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of a number of SIDS countries.