KARACHI - Minister for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Syed Sardar Ali Shah has said that that government going to organise the first International Conference on Makli at Makli, Thatta on January 13-14, 2018.

This he said while addressing the concluding session of the Unesco World Heritage Center (WHC) and Unesco Islamabad held a 2-day workshop organised in National Museum Karachi with the title of “World Heritage and Sustainable Development: The Role of Local Communities.”

The workshop (funded by the Republic of Korea) brought together several national and international experts to facilitate discussions on the role of community involvement in conservation of the world heritage sites, as well as the other cultural sites of global significance.

The minister applauded the role of Unesco for its excellent intervention in involving the local communities in the protection and preservation of this great archaeological site. Bringing the communities closer to their heritage, sits in the heart of their protection, reviving the ancient arts and taking an absolute pride in living around the centers of their great archaeological history. “Let me take this moment to assure all of you that the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities in Sindh will take up this component after its successful implementation and showcasing by Unesco and its partners”, he said.

Syed Sardar Ali Shah said that this workshop has provided us a unique opportunity to witness the success stories from across the regions for safeguarding the heritage sites through the involvement of the local communities. I wish to express that we are fortunate to be the descendants of the one of the oldest bronze-age civilization- and we have seen its continuity in the various forms of our tangible and intangible cultural expressions. We are proud to have in Sindh, two of the world’s heritage sites which are unique in their history, art, architecture and archaeology. It has been through the great architects and the artisans of the times that these sites significantly developed, flourished and reached to their zenith in their contemporary civilizations.

Earlier, the experts from Bangladesh, Jordan, Nepal, Oman and Pakistan presented case studies at the workshop to identify best practices for the conservation of World Heritage Sites. It is by developing good practices and prioritising the engagement of local communities that efforts towards conservation of monuments can occur in an inclusive manner; which in turn creates income generating activities for the local communities.

The opening remarks were delivered by Vibeke Jensen, Unesco Representative to Pakistan, highlighting how community involvement in world heritage protection can create peaceful and cohesive societies and further contribute to poverty alleviation through job creation. 

Junhi Han of the World Heritage Center at Unesco provided a comprehensive background on the institutional framework of community engagement at world heritage sites as a launching pad for the series of discussions commencing through the proceedings of the workshop.

In the first session on sustainable development through local community involvement, Yasmeen Lari, CEO of the Heritage Foundation, presented her organization’s work on the project, “Revitalization of Ancient Glazed Tiles in Sindh,” through the aforementioned Unesco project. She highlighted ways in which members of the marginalized communities, particularly women, can be engaged in conservation tasks living in the vicinity of the World Heritage Site of Makli.

Several other notable experts from around the globe presented their cases. They stressed the importance of involving community members in conservation efforts, stated the pressing need for the revitalization of crafts through community engagement, urged the development of viable management systems for sites, as well as the use of scaled-up versions of community engagement models based on syntheses from other successful projects.

The workshop concluded with a brainstorming session and discussion among the participants and the case presenters, exploring new avenues for community engagement in the sustainable development of world heritage sites.