INTO Conference in Cambridge: Global Heritage Movement in Action

The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) held its biennial conference in Cambridge, UK, from 7-11 September 2015. During the conference, Fiona Reynolds was elected new President of INTO, succeeding Professor Simon Molesworth, who has led the organisation for the last ten years. Europa Nostra’s Executive President Denis de Kergorlay and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović thanked the outgoing Chairman for his “inspiring leadership” and welcomed the incoming President, reaffirming their commitment to reinforcing the mutually beneficial partnership between Europa Nostra and INTO, which was initiated in 2009.

Group photo at the end of the 2015 INTO Conference in Cambridge. Photo: Courtesy of National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Group photo at the end of the 2015 INTO Conference in Cambridge. Photo: Courtesy of National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland

“Europa Nostra attaches great importance to its partnership with INTO. I wish to pay special tribute to INTO’s outgoing Chairman, Simon Molesworth from Australia, for his personal commitment to building this partnership and his dedicated contribution to the Europa Nostra Congresses held in Istanbul, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Athens, and also to The 7 Most Endangered programme, recently developed by our organisation. We now look forward to intensifying and further strengthening our alliance with INTO, under the leadership of the incoming President, Fiona Reynolds from the UK. We need to raise our voices together to advance the cause of heritage and to save endangered heritage across the globe,” stated Denis de Kergorlay.

Fiona Reynolds, who was Director-General of the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2001-2012 before becoming Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, declared: “During my time with the National Trust in this country, I was lucky enough to attend five INTO conferences and have watched INTO grow from a brave idea into a flourishing global network. I will relish the opportunity to renew those ties and to work closely with the INTO team to build a vibrant and active 21st century National Trust movement.”

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović added: “I have had the pleasure of attending INTO conferences in Edinburgh (2003), Washington DC (2005), New Delhi (2007) and Dublin (2009). These gatherings have always been a great inspiration for our work and have allowed me to further broaden our horizons and our network beyond the borders of Europe. Through interaction and friendship with heritage activists from around the world, I became firmly convinced about the need for a wider engagement by Europa Nostra in promoting globally the benefits of heritage as a driver of sustainable development and as a tool for intercultural understanding, respect and cooperation. To quote Irina Bokova and UNESCO, we must indeed ‘Unite for Heritage’!”

The 16th International Conference of National Trusts was hosted by the National Trust of England, Wales & Northern Ireland and organised in collaboration with the University of Cambridge. It was officially opened with a video address by HRH the Prince of Wales, President of the National Trust, and by Helen Ghosh, Director-General of the National Trust.

During the five-day event, delegates from over 70 NGOs shed light on the threats to heritage worldwide and shared new strategies to counter these in the future. The conference featured various plenary sessions and practical workshops.

During the first plenary session held on the morning of 7 September at the West Road Concert Hall, Europa Nostra’s Executive President Denis de Kergorlay and Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović made a speech entitled ‘From Europa Nostra to Terra Nostra: Global Heritage Movement without Borders’. Europa Nostra’s Executive Vice-president John Sell also participated in the conference. The afternoon session focused on the role of the National Trust movement in the 21st century.

On the evening of 7 September, during a great welcome reception at King’s College, Loyd Grossman, Chairman of the Heritage Alliance and Churches Conservation Trust, called on the European and Global Heritage Alliances to speak up more loudly.

Activity Days took place from 8-10 September at different locations near Cambridge. The practical workshops covered a range of issues: ‘Cultural Identities’ (Day 1, at Anglesey Abbey, Wicken Fen and Wimpole Estate), ‘Growing the Movement’ (Day 2, at the Theatre Royal and Ickworth palace in Bury St Edmunds), and ‘Land, Landscape and Nature’ (Day 3, at Anglesey Abbey, Wicken Fen and Wimpole Estate).

The last day of the conference returned to the West Road Concert Hall with a final plenary session focusing on the outcomes of the week as well as on the announcement of new initiatives and direction for INTO over the next few years. Fiona Reynolds stated that INTO will continue to make modest but catalytic contributions through the Small Grants Programme, develop the capacity of its member organisations, help establish more new Trusts and work on what it means to be member of the INTO family.

The INTO Conference in Cambridge concluded with a beautiful performance of Balinese dancing, as a handover to the 17th International Conference of National Trusts, which will take place in Indonesia in 2017.

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