A ‘New Deal for Europe’ based on cultural heritage

While Europe searches for the best way out of the crisis, Europe’s leading heritage organisation Europa Nostra and its founding member Italia Nostra, during a public debate on 15 March at UNESCO’s office in Venice, will launch an appeal for a ‘New Deal for Europe’ based on a true renaissance of its unique cultural heritage and encourage decision-makers to introduce an ambitious programme with a huge economic, social and culural impact.

Rio de S. Trovaso, Venice Photo: Juan Antonio F. Segal CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“Cultural heritage is Europe’s greatest asset: our gold reserve. It is a key sector among the cultural and creative industries which provide jobs for 6.7 million people in the EU and contribute up to 3.3% of Europe’s GDP. In spite of the crisis, cultural tourism has risen significantly in the last few years and now represents 40% of worldwide tourism. With our public debate held in Italy, the country with the richest cultural heritage in Europe, we are launching a strong appeal to national and European decision-makers to recognise the huge potential of our heritage, not only as a source of economic growth but also as a source of social cohesion and cultural accomplishment. We are strongly convinced that a way out of the crisis is a ‘New Deal for Europe’ based on cultural heritage”, stated Denis de Kergorlay, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

Venice, a unique jewel of Europe’s heritage and the city which 50 years ago triggered the creation of Europa Nostra, will act as an emblematic host of this public debate. “In 1963, Italia Nostra was the leading force for the establishment of a pan-European organisation to safeguard Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. I am deeply commited to contributing more actively to the heritage lobby, not only in Italy but also in Europe, because we have common challenges and shared responsibilities”, stressed Marco Parini, President of Italia Nostra. “Italy is facing a difficult economic situation and our politicians and administrators must take into consideration the unique richness of our heritage. It is our mission to stress that heritage is an important resource, not a burden. Investing in heritage is, in fact, a sound investment towards getting out of the crisis”, added Parini.

Philippe Daverio, the renowned Italian professor, art critic and TV presenter will introduce the debate entitled ‘For the Renaissance of Europe’s Cultural and Natural Heritage’. He will be followed by panel discussions with top-level representatives of public and private organisations, including Antonia Pasqua Recchia, Secretary-General of the Italian Ministry of Culture, Marco Magnifico, Executive Vice-president of FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), Umberto Marcello del Majno, President of the Association of International Private Committees for the Safeguard of Venice, and Antonio Foscari Widmann Rezzonico, Council Member of the Touring Club Italiano.

The stage for this important debate will be UNESCO’s Regional Office for Science and Culture in Venice. “UNESCO has cooperated with Europa Nostra for many years. It is a model of collaboration, aiming to make heritage a pillar of European dialogue, reconciliation and peace”, affirmed Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General at the Paris ceremony in which Europa Nostra’s President Plácido Domingo was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador. On 15 March in Venice, UNESCO will be represented by one of its highest officials, Francesco Bandarin, Assistant Director-General for Culture.


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