29 September 2014
The 1st OWHC Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting for World Heritage Cities on “Challenges of World Heritage Cities – Vision and Reality” was held in the city of Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, September 24-26, 2014.
The meeting was organized by Municipality of the city of Gyeongju, Asia Pacific Secretariat of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) in close cooperation with UNESCO Bangkok Office, UNESCO World Heritage Institute for Asia and the Pacific, and Korean National Commission for UNESCO.
The Meeting was attended by over 150 people from 27 cities in 14 countries: mayors, international organizations, foundations to preserve the cultural, historical and architectural heritage, unions and associations of cities, academic and research institutions, educational institutions, museums and other cultural institutions.
The meeting was consisted of two parts: Experts’ Workshop(UNESCO-OWHC), Mayors’ Meeting. The whole program started with the Experts workshop on 24th of September. Experts from all over the world gathered in Gyeongju in order to talk about “People-Centered Conservation” as a theme of the workshop. Intense discussions about definition, Methodology, and the cases related to “People Centered Conservation” were held. It was certainly a fruitful workshop with clearer concept of “People Centered Conservation” and many cases related the practical implementation of it.
On the morning of September 25, Mayors Meeting was opened by Mayor of Gyeongju Mr. Yangsik Choi. During the opening ceremony participants of the meeting were welcomed by the Mr Jong-jin Kim, Deputy Administrator of Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, Mr. Nam-il Kim, Gyeongsangbuk-do Provincial Government, Secretary General of the Organization of World Heritage Cities Denis Ricard, Mr. Gwang-jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok Office, Mr. Yeong-gil Kwon, Chairman of Gyeongju City Council, Mr. Kwon Huh, Regional Coordinator of OWHC-AP. After the ceremony, two Keynote speeches were addressed by Dr. Richard Mackay, Chair of Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee, and Ms Lee Minaidis, Deputy Secretary-General, OWHC.
In the afternoon, Roundtable session was held starting with the presentation of the position paper of UNESCO Bangkok Office written by Tim Curtis the chief of Culture Unit. Successful cases from member cities are followed. In honor of the opening of the 1st Regional Meeting, a festive dinner hosted by Gyeongju Mayor was held. Guests enjoyed national Korean cuisine, and surprisingly, the director of UNESCO Bangkok Office, Mr. Gwang-jo Kim, played a guitar to entertain the participants of the meeting.
On 26th of September, Cooperation meeting was moderated by Mr. Denis Ricard and Mr. Kwon Huh. It was a extremely important session by setting fundamental direction of the regional network and the future cooperation and programs of OWHC-AP. In addition, as a result of the all the discussions and the interactions happened during the meeting, “OWHC-AP Gyeongju Declaration” was adopted. The Declaration includes the basic principle based on “People Centered Conservation” and Sustainable Development.
In the afternoon, Participants went to the field tour including Risk-preparedness Plan and Practices, Repair of Stone Pagoda, Archaeological Excavation and Education. Delegates were delighted with what they saw. The way Gyeongju Municipal Government and Republic of Korea manage and protect World Heritage impressed everyone.