Since its creation in 2021, the European Network of Focal Points for the 2003 Convention has evolved considerably to become an important tool for regional cooperation. The Network now has almost 140 members, bringing together the Focal Points and facilitators from Europe as well as various European stakeholders working on the UNESCO 2003 Convention.

The main topics of the network meeting on 15 February were to take stock of the Wiki Loves Living Heritage 2023 campaign and to follow-up on the current reflection and developments regarding article 18. The meeting provided an opportunity to share experiences and initiatives being shared as a source of inspiration for others:


The Wiki Loves Living Heritage 2023 Campaign – review, feedback and next steps 

The idea for the Wiki Loves Living Heritage (WLLH) project was born in 2022. The campaign was launched in 2023 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Convention and ran throughout the year. This first attempt at a campaign destined to be continued was a resounding success with positive feedback in many countries of the network.

In Germany, it was an opportunity to shed light on the elements listed in the national inventory, most of which did not have a Wikipedia page. In Austria, the Focal Points took the opportunity to update the National Inventory after 10 years. The National Commissions also had the opportunity to participate in the WikiCom event, another opportunity to present the work related to UNESCO and to promote ICH.

The WLLH project also had a strong impact in Armenia, where a training course was held to learn how to create, edit and publish ICH content on Wikipedia, with participants receiving a certificate at the end. This was a useful and empowering initiative, which was covered by Armenia’s leading television channel, further promoting the project and ICH.

 Image for the European photo contest / Finnish Heritage Agency

Participation in the photo competition was very high, with almost 1,700 photos from Europe alone. Members have established fruitful collaborations with national Wikimedia organisations, which are set to continue in the future. Emphasis was also placed on community participation and engagement: in Belgium, members favoured a personalised approach to community outreach, which required a lot of time and effort, but was rewarded with a 75% response rate.

These positive experiences have encouraged and helped many other members to organise their own photo competitions. Nearly 5,500 ICH elements have been described on Wikidata, representing nearly 24,000 Wikipedia articles

Reflection on a broader implementation of Article 18

The article 18 of the Convention is related to good practices without directly mentioning the Register as such: it is an open article aimed at sharing and disseminating good practices in the field of safeguarding within the framework of the 2003 Convention, but it remains largely underused today despite its undeniable potential.

For this reason, a global reflection on article 18 and its implementation has been launched between 2018 and 2022 by the Secretariat in collaboration with States Parties. Although the Register was an important part of this global reflection, it was decided that a separate reflection was needed to explore all the possibilities of the article. This reflection began at the 17th session of the Committee in 2022. It was followed by a meeting of experts in Stockholm in 2023, which stressed the need to link the article 18 to the other cooperation mechanisms of the Convention, to reconsider the selection criteria and to find other ways of identifying good practices outside the Register, for which the creation of an online platform was proposed. This platform will be an extended version of the Register, allowing for more direct participation by communities, with an index for simplified searches.

Subsequently, an open-ended intergovernmental working group met in Paris in June 2023 to formulate a recommendation, which was subsequently validated at the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee last December. 

Photo taken at the meeting of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on the wider implementation of Article 18 of the 2003 Convention / UNESCO

The creation and implementation of such platform will require increased cooperation between the various stakeholders. In this respect, also European countries and the ENFP network may play a role to foster this future project. Several countries in Europe have already established registers and other instruments  to identify and share good practices at national level.
ENFP could possibly serve as a platform already to map existing initiatives in the region and make this information available for interested parties.