12-13th November Joint Conference of UNESCO ICHCAP-ICH NGO “ICH and Resilience in Crisis” | 23.11.2020


The 2020 ICH NGO Conference, organized jointly by ICHCAP and ICH NGO Forum, was held online under the title “ICH and Resilience in Crisis” between 12-13th November 2020. This conference, which has been held biennially since 2014, provides an opportunity to introduce the work of non-governmental organizations working on intangible cultural heritage.

ICHCAP and ICH NGO organized an online conference in the environment of the complacency and disconnected human relations caused by the global pandemic period, allowing all institutions working in this field to work in cooperation.

The responsibilities of non-governmental organizations in the field of education and the problems they face were discussed at the conference this year.

In the conference, which lasted for a total of two days, it was emphasized that cultural transfer is of great importance for the survival of a society, as well as new methods developed to transfer the intangible cultural heritage to larger masses after the pandemic.

On the first day of the conference, Carolina Bermúdez from Fundación Etnollano stated that as a non-governmental organization located in the Mataven Forest in Colombia Amazonia, their culture, which is about to disappear, can only continue with Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage studies. Bermúdez who classified her works in three groups, stated that they received positive reactions by raising the awareness of the local community and including them in the researches.

Kai-kwong Choi from Life Encouraging Fund, in his speech entitled “The Integrative Development Model of Community-Based Intangible Cultural Heritage in China - Hong Kong - Yuen Long District” for training and transfer of intangible cultural heritage in a pilot project in the Yuen Long District, he stated that they are implementing a community-based holistic development model. The fields of activity they realize in this model listed as follows;

  1. Oral traditions and expressions: Wai Tau Dialect interactive class
  2. Performing arts: Cantonese opera performance
  3. Social practices, rituals and holiday events: On-site festivals and rituals, guided tours
  4. Knowledge and practices about nature and the universe: In-situ herbal tea
  5. Traditional craftsmanship: Paperwork technique workshops

Alington Ndlovu, in his speech on behalf of Amagugu International Heritage Center, talked about the importance of the use of mother tongue for both the continuity of culture and informing studies against diseases. He emphasized the importance of the unique herbs of the regions for alternative medicine.

Dibya Borah from the North East India Folk Culture Research Center (ARHI) stated that we should be aware of our responsibilities while talking about the effects of the crisis created by the pandemic on concrete and cultural heritage. Borah said that cultural heritage elements should integrate to our new understanding of life while mentioning that social media and digitalization are inevitable with the new order brought about by the pandemic process.

Julio Nacher, in her speech on behalf of the ICCN Spain Secretariat, drew attention to the fact that traditions came to the forefront during the quarantine period, with the example of online events held at the Korean Women’s Museum, and that their influence continues to increase with new communication systems.

Jeff M. Poulin the director of Creative Generation, mentioned about the problems faced by our world and the importance of the transfer of cultural heritage to future generations in his speech. It was emphasized that every step to be taken by leaving the comfort zone in times of crisis plays an important role for success. Poulin mentioned that artistic and cultural productions have a healing effect on young people in this crisis period created by the pandemic while speaking about the positive effects of the ICH organization on young people and its role in reaching more young people.

Meeza Ubaid from Trust For History Arts & Architecture, Pakistan (THAAP), gave information about the activities they carried out through the village of Kalash in Pakistan. She drew attention to the fact that by making culture as a part of education, it becomes possible to transfer these to children with various materials. She stated that traditional stories were made into books and made into remarkable items for children. Ubaid emphasized the important role of adult members of the society for the transfer of culture and experience while expressing that the importance of home education as well as formal education was understood once again during the pandemic.  

Hanhee Hahm from the Center for Intangible Culture Studies (CICS) in her presentation titled as “Transition to Online Activities: Digital Divide between NGOs and ICH Communities in Korea” said that many activities of committees and non-governmental organizations were canceled due to Covid-19, and it is inevitable for economies not to be affected. However, she stated that online activities have turned into opportunities for intangible cultural heritage, and it is easier to reach large audiences and to make the activities ongoing visible. She mentioned that many books published during the quarantine period and online activities and various projects could be carried out at home.

Joseph Lo (World Crafts Council International), Nicholas Pozek (Columbia University) and Alessio Re (Santagata Foundation for the Economy of Culture) in the speeches held on 13th November 2020,  emphasized that change is a very important phenomenon and that adaptation to the conditions of the new world must be provided quickly. They stated that they are aware of the responsibilities of their work in the field of intangible cultural heritage and that they have revealed alternative experiences with this awareness. They talked about the importance of the economies of the country for non-governmental organizations and drew attention to the fact that the relations between the countries should be strong for development in the social field.

The conference concluded with the emphasis on the importance of solidarity and the necessity of collective action for the intangible cultural heritage to gain its deserved position in every society and worldwide.