ENtopia Programme presented at international conference on cultural landscapes in Athens
Europa Nostra’s new programme ‘ENtopia: Our Places in Europe’ was presented by Costa Carras, Vice-president the organisation, at the international meeting ‘Cultural Landscapes in Natura 2000 sites: towards a new policy for the integrated management of cultural and natural heritage’, held in Athens and Stymfalia in Greece on 10-11 October 2014. Representatives from European institutions, international bodies, associations and civil society organisations as well as academics and experts took part in this conference, organised by the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation in collaboration with the Hellenic Ministries of Culture & Sports and Environment, Energy & Climate Change.
The ENtopia programme – launched in June 2013, on the occasion of Europa Nostra’s 50th anniversary Congress in Athens – aims to celebrate the historic and cultural traditions and diversity of small towns, villages and landscapes, and to foster greater appreciation, awareness and sharing between these communities of their distinct local identity, as an integral element of our wider European identity. By joining in this initiative, the communities are able to participate and share in the benefits of cooperation across the continent.
“ENtopia is an excellent example of the collaborative spirit that inspires the European conservation movement. An idea born in Ireland has been adopted to date in no less than ten other countries: England, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Albania, Serbia and Turkey,” stated the Vice-president of Europa Nostra, in his address.
In Greece, three of the four islands (Skyros, Sikinos, Skopelos and Chios) so far proposed for ENtopia contain substantial Natura 2000 areas. “In Skyros, a massive majority of the population – with the support of the Hellenic Ornithological Society and Elliniki Etairia, Europa Nostra’s Representation in Greece – successfully resisted a proposal for 111 huge wind turbines that would have destroyed the Natura 2000 protected area and diminished the attraction of the island’s distinguished architecture, which was praised as outstanding by no less an architect than Le Corbusier,” said Costa Carras. And he stressed: “Their experience has led many people on Skyros to understand that the only future that can satisfy both their sense of the island’s identity and their future economic prosperity will be one based on a consistent pursuit of sustainability and respect for their cultural heritage”.
“We shall not be protecting only monuments, whether of nature or culture, or both. We shall also be protecting those communities which have chosen as their way of life respect for their landscapes and cityscapes, love for their cultural heritage and determination to live in a sustainable manner. That is the message of Europa Nostra’s new programme, ENtopia”, concluded Costa Carras.
Among the main participants in this international meeting were Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Konstantinos Tasoulas, Minister of Culture and Sports, and Ioannis Maniatis, Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
At the end of the conference, its 200 participants adopted the Declaration of Stymfalia, which puts forwards proposals and recommendations in the fields of Education, Management, Communication and Policy.
“International and EU (environmental, cultural, economic, regional development, agricultural, maritime and research) policies need to be reconsidered so as to prioritize the integration of cultural and natural heritage into local, regional and sectoral policies,” it is claimed.
“The development of a new budget line linking existing EU funding programmes (e.g. Horizon 2020, LIFE, Structural and Investment Funds – ESIF, European Regional Development Fund, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, etc.) in the fields of environment, culture, education and regional development, will facilitate synergies and allow for the best possible exploitation of funds for projects aiming at the integrated management of cultural and natural heritage at the landscape level,” reads the Declaration.