|Group photo after the 60th Anniversary General Assembly of Europa Nostra
Dear Colleagues and Friends
We brought together over 700 heritage practitioners and enthusiasts to the World Heritage City of Venice to participate in the European Cultural Heritage Summit 2023 from 27 to 30 September. It was a particularly special occasion, coinciding with Europa Nostra’s 60th anniversary. The choice of Venice was deeply symbolic. The European history and significance of this city, coupled with its breathtaking yet fragile beauty, has always been at the very heart of the mission of Europa Nostra – from 1963 to date. And once again Venice was the perfect stage to reaffirm our dedication to safeguarding and promoting the shared heritage and values that define Europe today.
In Venice, we put the spotlight on pressing challenges confronting the continent, starting with Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine. On the eve of the Summit, our Vice-President Dr. Natalia Moussienko, who travelled from Kyiv to Venice, delivered at the Ca’ Foscari University the public lecture ‘Art and Cultural Heritage in Wartime Ukraine’. Cultural heritage sites have been repeatedly targeted by Russia, which constitutes an attack against the sites themselves but also against Ukrainian identity. Art has become a potent tool for raising awareness in the face of such adversity.
Another of our main collective concerns is climate change, with its strong impact on the city of Venice and its Lagoon. For this reason, the newly launched European Heritage Hub project held one of its first public events during the Venice Summit, with a most fitting focus on the key role of culture and cultural heritage for a more effective climate action. At the forum ‘Reimagining the Anthropocene: Putting Culture and Heritage at the Heart of Climate Action’, over 30 heritage and climate experts took part in panel discussions to demonstrate how contemporary climate policy is dangerously failing and to advocate for heritage-based solutions to be taken into account. The Forum concluded with the presentation of a Global Call to Action to put heritage at the heart of climate action, to be launched at the beginning of November ahead of COP28 to be held from 30 November until 12 December in Dubai. In addition, a special study tour of the Venice Lagoon was held on the last day of the Summit, exploring the Lagoon’s cultural and natural systems and learning about the major efforts to adapt to threats caused by climate change, such as the construction of the MOSE mobile barrier.
Fortunately, amidst these serious concerns and challenges, there were moments for optimism. The European Heritage Policy Agora ended with the presentation of the draft Venice Manifesto: ‘For a European Cultural Citizenship’. Culture and cultural heritage represent more than ever the key forces that link Europeans together. This sense of togetherness and belonging to a wider community is all the more crucial in today’s times of fear and uncertainty. The European Heritage Awards Ceremony also provided a source of joy and a beacon of hope. The 30 awarded projects are a true ode to the hard work and commitment of these heritage practitioners (professionals and volunteers, young and less young) to safeguarding our treasured heritage. In addition, the voices of the new generation gave us a forward-looking perspective. Ten European Heritage Youth Ambassadors from all over Europe actively participated in the Summit. During the Hub forum, these youth ambassadors underscored the urgent need to establish a youth-led dialogue when it comes to climate change.
And what better way to encapsulate the spirit of the 2023 Summit than with an op-ed published in La Stampa, one of the leading Italian daily newspapers, by our esteemed President Cecilia Bartoli. It was both an honour and inspiration to have our President with us in Venice for the Awards Ceremony and our 60th Anniversary General Assembly.
The Summit would not have been possible without the invaluable support provided by our many partners, duly acknowledged at the bottom of this newsletter. Special thanks to our main European partner, the European Commission, and to our main local partner, the City of Venice.
We hope you will enjoy reading this Special Newsletter and that it will make you reminisce or discover the rich programme of our Venice Summit. We also look forward to welcoming you for our European Cultural Heritage Summit 2024 to be held in June – location to be announced soon. Until that moment arrives, we remain engaged and connected, ready to address the many challenges of today while celebrating our collective successes in preserving invaluable assets of our shared cultural and natural heritage.
Hermann Parzinger, Executive President
Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General