Europa Nostra backs young people’s plea to safeguard heritage

Protecting Art from Crime, Disputes and War is an inspiring book, recently produced by Europa Nostra’s member organisation Walk of Truth, in which young people make a strong plea for the safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage, particularly in areas of conflict. “I felt deeply moved by both the letter written to a person in power and the seals of protection designed by young people from various countries. Each of the 42 drawings is a forceful plea to decision makers for action”, affirmed Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, after receiving the first copy from Tasoula Georgiou-Hadjitofi, founder and President of the Walk of Truth, and her daughter Marina, who represented the participants, at Europa Nostra’s headquarters in the Hague on 6 March.

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, receiving the first copy from Tasoula Georgiou-Hadjitofi, founder and President of the Walk of Truth, and her daughter Marina, who represented the participants

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, receiving the first copy from Tasoula Georgiou-Hadjitofi, founder and President of the Walk of Truth, and her daughter Marina, who represented the participants.

In his letter to a person in power, seventeen-year old Nicolas Rivard wisely advocates: “The importance and delicacy of a country’s cultural heritage must be recognised and upheld throughout the world. Cultural heritage acts to unite us all in a common sense of place and identity. It has the power to prevent wars. It also acts as a map to help us navigate our way through our past and guide us into the future”. He warns that “not enough is being done to protect items and locations of cultural significance” and urges decision makers to act now. “Every day that passes results in a piece of the map being lost forever, and thus the ‘path’ intertwining our past, present and future will be obscured”.

While highlighting the many achievements in the last 50 years, in which Europa Nostra and its members have voiced concerns, raised awareness, promoted excellence and lobbied for better policies and rules to protect Europe’s heritage, its Secretary General conceded that there is still much more to be done. “Indeed, we must convince many more people in power at all levels – local, European and global – to support our cause”, she wrote in her reply to Nicolas. “Europa Nostra strongly backs the appeal made by these committed young people. We believe that the safeguard of cultural and natural heritage will be better-ensured when the voice and energy of the younger generation are supporting this important cause”, stated Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

Developed by the NGO Walk of Truth in collaboration with the British School(s) in the Netherlands, this project challenged young people to reflect on heritage and cultural diversity. “I was overwhelmed by these magnificent drawings. These creative and meaningful shields of protection demonstrate that children can value cultural heritage and recognise it as a globally-shared resource”, said Tasoula Georgiou-Hadjitofi on the occasion of the delivery of the first copy of the book to Europa Nostra. “This was a pilot project launched in the Netherlands and we are currently trying to establish new partnerships to extend it to schools in several European countries”, highlighted the President of the Walk of Truth.

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