Europa Nostra contributes to Open Eyes Economy Summit 2021 in Krakow

Europa Nostra contributed to the renowned Open Eyes Economy Summit (OEES) held at the ICE Congress Center Krakow, Poland, and online on 16-17 November 2021. The sixth edition of the Summit gathered eminent politicians and social activists, representatives from the business community, students, academics, scientists, journalists and artists from Poland, Europe and all over the world to discuss “the economy of values” and a variety of issues ranging from corporate social and environmental responsibility to innovation, digital trust and the future of historical cities. Europa Nostra was represented by its Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, who delivered a keynote speech during the opening ceremony of the Summit, in which she called for a change of attitude towards cultural heritage, outlined new heritage-led perspectives to address Europe’s most pressing challenges, and called for a stronger role to be played by cities and regions to achieve this transformation.

The Open Eyes Economy Summit is a yearly economic and social congress with global ambitions. It is characterized by its own “Open Eyes philosophy”, underlining the need to build a responsible civil society, also requiring responsibility from business and the public administration. The 2021 edition of the Summit brought together numerous high-level speakers from Poland, Europe and the world, to discuss key issues of a mission and value-driven economy. Among the distinguished speakers were Prof. Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow, Tomasz Grodzki, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, and Prof. Jacek Purchla, Vice-President of Europa Nostra, as well as numerous representatives from the economic and business sector.

Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, addressed the audience during the opening session of the Summit, with a keynote entitled “For a New Heritage Deal for Europe”, in which she called for a change of attitude towards cultural heritage and outlined new heritage-led perspectives to address Europe’s most pressing challenges.

In her keynote speech, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic, recalled the key findings of the Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe report, published by 2015 by Europa Nostra and its partners, which demonstrates – through a series of quantitative and qualitative indicators – that investment in cultural heritage is good value for money, provides an excellent return on investment but is seriously undervalued. “While recognising the large economic impact of cultural heritage, our landmark report underlined the need to develop and apply a holistic approach, which considers the impact of heritage in four interlinked domains: culture, society, economy and the environment,” she added.

The Secretary General of Europa Nostra also launched a forceful plea to “transform Economy into Culture” through a New Heritage Deal for Europe. “We need to revitalise our vulnerable inner-cities through heritage projects and develop our regions through heritage-related actions. Well-placed investments in heritage sites and areas can help lift neighbourhoods from poverty and increase social cohesion and inclusion. Vocational training can help unemployed young people to gain rewarding skills which will help boost their self-confidence and sense of pride,” she said.

“To promote such a New Heritage Deal for Europe, we need champions at all levels of governance. Above all, we need visionary Mayors of European cities. Mayors who embrace heritage as a catalyst for positive change,” added Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailovic. This message was also conveyed personally to Professor Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of Krakow, in a separate meeting with a Europa Nostra Delegation after the Summit organised to discuss the idea of setting up a Europa Nostra’s regional hub in Krakow, to be hosted by the Society of Friends of Krakow History and Heritage and in close collaboration with the International Cultural Centre and the City of Krakow, to spread the Europa Nostra messages across a wider region of Central and Eastern Europe and to enhance the input from this part of Europe to the activities of Europa Nostra.

Several debates, seminars and talks were held during the two-day Open Eyes Economy Summit, providing for a melting pot of new ideas, an interaction between various disciplines and a unique opportunity to exchange on the most important trends in contemporary social and economic thought.

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Read more about the Open Eyes Economy Summit OEES.

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