Europa Nostra puts cultural heritage at the heart of the discussions at the Delphi Economic Forum 2023

Europa Nostra participated as a content partner in the 8th edition of the Delphi Economic Forum held in the village of the World Heritage Site of Delphi, Greece, on 26-29 April 2023. Over the course of four days, leading figures from the fields of politics, business, diplomacy and civil society engaged in meaningful discussions on the state of the world. The Delphi Economic Forum was held under the auspices and in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakelaropoulou. Its primary goal was to facilitate dialogue and policy development related to Europe, the Mediterranean, and beyond, by bringing together Greek and international experts and key stakeholders.

 

Like last year, Europa Nostra and Elliniki Etairia – Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ELLET), our country representation based in Athens, were invited to contribute to the content and structure of the forum. This year, Europa Nostra and ELLET focused on topics such as the role of cultural and natural heritage to foster the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU as well as to further strengthen an effective climate action in Europe and beyond.

Cultural Heritage for the Integration of Western Balkans into the EU

On 28 April, Europa Nostra’s Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg Mihailović, moderated a panel discussion on the role of cultural heritage for the integration of Western Balkans into the EU with the participation of high level figures from Greece and the Balkans.

Starting from Albania, Meri Kumbe, the Deputy Minister of Culture, represented the Ministry of Culture of the country. With a strong background in youth matters and culture, Meri Kumbe emphasised the significance of culture, stating that “culture is the strongest currency.” She explained that cultural heritage is not only crucial for the Western Balkans’ integration into the EU but also for shaping Europe’s shared cultural identity and memory The Deputy Minister of Culture of Albania also highlighted the diverse natural and cultural heritage of the country, which reflects the coexistence of various cultures and religions in Europe.

Moreover, Meri Kumbe mentioned that Albania has – more recently – invested 80 million euros in the preservation of cultural heritage, and half of the budget was provided by the European Union. She also emphasised that Albania’s focus is on sustainability and green transformation, digitalization, and social cohesion through heritage.

Olivera Livrinikj, Advisor to the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia, spoke on behalf of Minister Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojčevska. She acknowledged the close collaboration between the Ministry of Culture of North Macedonia and Europa Nostra, referring to the joint efforts to preserve the Central Post Office in Skopje. Olivera Livrinikj emphasised the importance of cross-border collaborations in cultural heritage preservation, referring to the Western Balkans as an important puzzle piece of Europe’s multiple cultural identity. She encouraged the audience to take advantage of the diverse cultural heritage to promote integration, protect the past, and create a better future.

During the panel discussion, Tassos Kriekoukis, Diplomatic Advisor to the Mayor of Athens, shared his extensive experience in foreign affairs on behalf of the Hellenic Republic, the United Nations and the European Union. He spoke about the key role that cities play in integrating the Western Balkans into the European Union. Tassos Kriekoukis also highlighted the significance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in improving living conditions in the Balkans and Europe. He specifically mentioned Goal 11 and its relationship to sustainable development and the responsibility of communities to uphold it, stressing the importance of passing on the legacy of previous generations to future ones. Additionally, Tassos Kriekoukis highlighted the positive impact of citizens’ proximity to cultural heritage sites for their quality of life. Finally, he discussed the power of digitalisation in preserving and promoting intangible heritage.

In her address, Lydia Carras, the President of ELLET, highlighted the significance of regional collaboration and cited the Prespes 1st Capacity Building Co-Creation Camp for the Western Balkans of the Youth Special Task Force for the Balkans (Balkans-YSTF) as an example. She underlined the importance of involving the youth in the process of heritage preservation and promotion, as well as the need for green transformation.

In her concluding remarks, Sneška Quaedvlieg Miahailović referred to the role of the cities in active citizenship and preservation of cultural heritage; and highlighted that cultural heritage is as a strategic vector for integration of the Western Balkans in the EU. These topics will figure among the priorities of the European Heritage Hub.

Climate Crisis: Research and Results

On 26 April, Europa Nostra’s Heritage and Climate Action Advisor, Andrew Potts, took part in the panel discussion on Climate Crisis: Research and Results. The panel was organised by Europa Nostra’s country representation in Greece, ELLET, to present the results of the EU-funded project for which ELLET was responsible. Experts shared their insights on the achievements and requirements of the region’s efforts to combat the climate crisis.

The “Life” project, a pan-European initiative funded by the EU, was given special attention by the speakers. They emphasised the importance of natural and cultural solutions for climate adaptation in both regional and European contexts.

A Heritage Walk for Climate and Peace

ELLET in cooperation with Europa Nostra provided the forum’s audience with a unique opportunity to walk along the ancient paths connecting the villages of Delphi and Chrisso. This activity – which marked the launch of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of Europa Nostra – was part of the forum’s side events, which aimed to connect people with the spirit of the place, through a discovery and experience of the exceptional cultural and natural heritage of Delphi.

The walk was a testament to the interest and engagement from people of all backgrounds at the Delphi Economic Forum. It demonstrated that cultural heritage can be a powerful tool for bringing people together and stimulating discussions among professionals from various fields, ultimately leading to informed decisions. Additionally, the walk was a symbolic experience that brought together many forum participants to showcase the importance of natural and cultural heritage for Europe and the local communities in the region.

The walk concluded in the village of Chrisso, where participants had the opportunity to explore and hear from high-level professors in Greece about the significance of traditional architecture in sustainable development and the green transformation of Europe.

Costa Carras European Citizens Award presented to the Romanian NGO “A.R.A” in the frame of the Delphi Economic Forum

In an atmosphere of collaboration and admiration, the first Costa Carras European Citizens Award Ceremony took place in the frame of the Delphi Economic Forum. The event was honoured by the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. The ceremony highlighted the significance of active citizenship in safeguarding endangered cultural heritage and had the participation of distinguished European stakeholders.

Europa Nostra eagerly anticipates its enhanced role as a content partner in the forthcoming 2024 Delphi Economic Forum. Our goal is to promote the integration of heritage into political and economic affairs and discussions at all levels. We are especially grateful for the agreement reached with the President of the DEF, Symeon Tsomokos, to present every year the Costa Carras European Citizens Award in the framework of the Delphi Economic Forum. This partnership is highly commendable as we intend to join our forces and voices for a more environmentally conscious, equitable, and inclusive society.

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