Underwater cultural heritage in the spotlight
Risks include rising work on the seabed, trawling and mineral extraction
11 March 2021 | Environment
The two-day virtual meeting, which began on Wednesday, is co-hosted by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in collaboration with Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture for contribution towards Unesco’s continued efforts to improve member states’ capacities in protecting their submerged heritage.
According to Unesco representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, the meeting forms part of the efforts to strengthen and increase state cooperation, mutual assistance and exchange of knowledge to protect the most fragile component of shared heritage.
He added that Unesco hopes to see an increase in the volume and scope of underwater archaeological activities in Namibia and Africa as a whole, including the development of underwater archaeology as a discipline, monitoring and inventorying of sites and reinforcement of skills development for authorities.
“It is our commitment, together with the government of the Republic of Namibia, to enhance awareness raising among the general public about all aspects related to the underwater cultural heritage as an important tool for economic development, memory of humanity and inter-cultural dialogue,” said Moussa-Elkadhum.
He pointed out that despite an increased recognition of underwater cultural heritage for its historical, economical, scientific and cultural significance, it is under increasing threat from looting, treasure hunting and commercial exploitation. “It suffers from the rising work on the seabed, trawling and mineral extraction,” Moussa-Elkadhum added.
The meeting, which ends on Thursday, brings together African and international experts on underwater culture to increase awareness of the 2001 Convention and its value, as well as to improve collaboration at national and regional level to ensure strengthened protection of underwater cultural heritage. – Nampa