Project spotlight: Cultural heritage

By Anna Patricia Valerio 05 October 2015

Mosaic depicting the first bath of the baby Achilles at the Villa of Theseus in Cyprus. A project by the U.S. Agency for International Development and Costas & Rita Severis is focused on cultural preservation in the country. Photo by: Thomas Sagory / CC BY-NC

The Islamic State group’s wanton destruction of the Temple of Bel, which for thousands of years was where religious life revolved in Palmyra, Syria, was an act that UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called “an intolerable crime against civilization.”

Since the disturbing incident occurred, international groups have re-emphasized the importance of cultural preservation as a global development pillar. UNESCO, in particular, reaffirmed its commitment “to go on protecting all that which can be saved.”

More than a decade earlier, UNESCO became the first international organization to attempt to stabilize Iraq through the promotion of cultural heritage. In the months following the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003, the U.N. agency launched a campaign to protect Iraq’s cultural assets, both physical and social.

Indeed, there is an acknowledgement that preservation of cultural heritage isn’t limited to the protection of historic sites alone. This has opened up opportunities for different types of development organizations to get involved, despite the fact that cultural heritage projects are rarely on the radar of most implementing partners. While there are many funders and implementers of cultural heritage projects around the world, Devex examined the landscape to identify a few important cultural projects you should know.

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About the author

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Anna Patricia Valerio

Anna Patricia Valerio is a Manila-based development analyst focusing on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.

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