A three-day capacity-building workshop on the United Nations Convention for the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage opened yesterday in Accra [June 7, 2022].
Participants from The Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana include heritage site managers, convention focal points in the five English-speaking West African countries and government officials.
Known as the 1972 World Heritage Convention, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted it in November 1972 as a worldwide recommendation for the protection of cultural heritage and natural at the national level.
The World Heritage Convention is one of the most important global conservation instruments, created primarily to identify and protect the world’s natural and cultural heritage considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value.
Ghana ratified the convention in 1975, making it one of the earliest signatories to the now almost universally ratified document, with 194 state parties, 50 of which are African countries.
Some 167 States Parties have currently inscribed 1,154 cultural and heritage sites.
Opening the workshop, the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, said that the management of World Heritage sites was an important issue that deserved attention.
“This workshop is an opportunity to discuss and share experiences from different countries to deepen our understanding of the 1972 convention and the management requirements of our World Heritage sites,” he said in a speech read in his name by the director of arts and culture of the ministry. , Josephine Ohene-Osei.
Dr. Awal said the country has two World Heritage Sites, namely Volta Forts and Castles, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions, and Traditional Asante Buildings.
“We meet at a time when the management of World Heritage sites in Ghana has become difficult due to the growing number of threats. These threats, as identified in the Advisory and Reactive Monitoring Reports of 2019 and 2020, respectively, as well as the incidents that occurred in some components of the Forts and Castles World Heritage sites, necessitate taking the necessary measures to avoid the loss of the sites’ outstanding universal value.
“Recently, with international assistance from UNESCO, an integrated management plan has been prepared for the Forts and Castles World Heritage Site,” he said.
The director of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, Ayeni Oisewemime, said the workshop was essential to do a lot of work regarding the inscription and management of the sites.
“When we build capacity, we can reasonably expect corresponding results,” he said.
The director of culture at Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Information and Culture, Foday Jalloh, said a number of sites had been restored through collaboration with UNESCO and other partners to protect the cultural and natural heritage of Sierra Leone in order to preserve their value, authenticity and integrity.
He mentioned that measures are also being taken to train and involve the community in order to protect all national heritage properties.
Mr. Jalloh said that despite the achievements, some challenges restricted “the full implementation of the articles of the 1972 Convention on Natural and Cultural Heritage”.
He mentioned the challenges to include insufficient funding, lack of tools and equipment, scarcity of scientific and technological resources among the challenges.