JPI/JHEP Advisory Board meeting – 11 April 2013 in Amersfort, the Netherlands

The Annual meeting of the Advisory Board to the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on “Cultural Heritage and Global Change: a new challenge for Europe” was held on 11 April 2013 in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. Hosted by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), the meeting was combined with a workshop concerning the cooperation of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and Inter-Governmental Organisations (IGO) with this JPI. Europa Nostra is represented on the JPI Advisory Board by EN Executive Vice President John Sell. He was unable to attend the meeting and was replaced by Council member Laurie Neale.

This JPI on “Cultural Heritage and Global Change: a new challenge for Europe” is a concerted research action allowing EU Member States to maximise and best exploit their research efforts and provides a framework within which public research programmes can jointly respond to major societal challenges. Protection of cultural heritage in the face of global change is a major concern for decision-makers, stakeholders and citizens in Europe. Research into strategies, methodologies and tools is needed to safeguard cultural heritage against continuous decay. Before irreversible damage is done, concerted actions, based on sound science, are needed to protect, strengthen and adapt Europe’s unique cultural patrimony.

Through the coordination actions of the Joint Heritage European Programme (JHEP), national research programmes are streamlined and coordinated with those of the European Commission in order to improve efficiency of the scarce financial resources, avoid overlaps and exploit synergies. The Advisory Board meeting concerned the development of the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) approved in March 2013 in Rome, and the Action Programme (AP) which will implement the SRA. The first Call, the Joint Pilot Call, was open between 10 January and 05 April 2013 and received 89 applications. The second Call for proposals, planned for 2014, will be held within ERA NET PLUS programme and will also access European funding.

An important message of the meeting was the need for an inventory of joint activities and priorities. The role of NGOs and IGOs was discussed in this regard. Laurie Neale gave a presentation on Europa Nostra and its networking role, also through the European Heritage Alliance 3.3, in raising general awareness of vulnerabilities facing cultural heritage objects and site in Europe. As well, she emphasised the valuable of and the role played by heritage experts and volunteers in the field in conducting research on the ground, away from academic institutions. A general appeal was made to make better use of the website which disseminates information about research being carried out in the cultural heritage field across Europe. This website needs to gain greater name recognition.

The Strategic Research Priorities for cultural heritage were developed from research areas submitted by the National Consultation Panels in combination with European Commission priorities. Great importance was attached to seeing tangible, intangible and digital heritage as inter-related issues. Four priority research areas were identified as part of the consultation, and were grouped into themes which reflect the broader issues of the cultural research landscape:
1. Developing a reflective society. Broadly based on recognising that the world is changing and that research questions, approaches, methods and reporting need to reflect this change.
2. Connecting people with heritage. Concentrating on exploring access by addressing themes and issues that enable people and communities to connect with heritage, underpinned by sustainable management plans.
3. Creating knowledge. Deepening our understanding of the context in which cultural heritage exists and is formed, and developing innovative approaches, applications and tools that will create added value for society from cultural heritage.
4. Safeguarding our cultural heritage resource. Exploring how we can protect our heritage and the research that is required to support protection.

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