8th Annual Meeting of the European Heritage Heads Forum in Oslo (23-24 May)

The European Heritage Heads Forum (EHHF) – an informal network that brings together the heads of the European state heritage authorities – met on 23-24 May in Oslo to share ideas about the management of historic environments. This Forum is an important arena for cooperation between European directors of cultural heritage. One of the main points of discussion at this year’s EHHF meeting was the cooperation between public authorities and the NGO sector and Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, was invited to contribute to this discussion from the European perspective. The meeting in Oslo ended with the adoption of a special “Statement on Cooperation with NGOs and the wider Civil Society”.

EHHF Oslo 2013. Photo: Tatt på Gamle Logen

EHHF Oslo 2013. Photo: Tatt på Gamle Logen

“The voluntary organisations and other private actors play an important role in the safeguarding of our cultural heritage. A good collaboration between the public authorities and the voluntary associations and private owners is the best guarantee we have for the continued care of our cultural heritage”, stressed the Norwegian Minister of the Environment, Bård Vegard Solhjell, during his dinner speech at the Akershus Castle, on the eve of the EHHF discussion with representatives of the heritage NGO sector. Following this discussion, the EHHF adopted a special “Statement on Cooperation with NGOs and the wider Civil Society” which recognises that “national or umbrella heritage NGOs, as well as their European networks, can be powerful partners in policy making and raising awareness”. The EHHF statement also underlines that “the role of state authorities is to help strengthen civil society at all levels, encourage capacity building activities and assist in providing a suitable platform to allow these important voices to be heard”.

“The EHHF Special Statement, which is also fully reflected in the final conclusions of the EHHF annual meeting, is an important encouragement to all of us who work in the heritage-related civil society sector. Europa Nostra and the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. look forward to developing a fruitful dialogue with the EHHF in the coming years for the benefit of developing a true EU strategy with regard of cultural heritage and of ensuring the widest possible mobilisation of public and private actors for the safeguard of Europe’s cultural and natural heritage” stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, at the end of the meeting in Oslo.

The EHHF meeting in Oslo was the 8th of its kind and with 28 delegations represented, the participation has never been higher. The meeting was hosted and led by Jørn Holme, the Norwegian Director General of Cultural Heritage. “We were very pleased to welcome so many directors of cultural heritage in Oslo,” said Jørn Holme. “From Bavarian castles to Norwegian stave churches, the heritage sector in Europe faces many of the same challenges”.

The EHHF meeting in Oslo was also attended by Erik Schultz, Chairman of Europa Nostra Norway, who together with Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, had fruitful talks with various Norwegian public and private bodies about the possible organisation of the Europa Nostra Congress 2015 in Oslo.

During the meeting in Oslo, participants also experienced Norway’s rich cultural heritage with inspiring visits organised to the iconic new Opera House in Oslo, the Viking Ship Museum and a boat trip with the historic vessel MS Børøysund which has been restored and is run by enthusiastic volunteers.

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