Culture talks: Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, in discussion with (from left) Permanent Secretary, Shirley Farnum; Minister of Education and Human Resource Development in Grenada, Franca Bernadine and Programme Manager for Culture and Community Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Hilary Brown. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The Caribbean has failed to recognise the "true value of our heritage", and as a result, it is "woefully underrepresented" on the World Heritage List.

This view was proffered today by Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, while delivering an address at the opening of a one-day CARICOM World Heritage Workshop at the Amaryllis Hotel.

Noting that Europe was over represented, Mr. Lashley said there were 911 properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and pointed out that 35 were in France, 33 in Germany, 24 in the United Kingdom, 42 in Spain and 45 in Italy.

"Compare this to the fact that there are a mere six properties in CARICOM and then you will share my concern that we are underrepresented. We have to be honest and admit that we, as a region, have to accept some measure of accountability for this state of affairs. UNESCO is not only to share the responsibility. . .

"It is now time for us to accept responsibility for, and to take pride in our rich and unique heritage. It is now up to us to put programmes in place to involve our people and our communities in the entire process, sensitising them to the need to accept and share this responsibility," he stated.

The Minister noted that of the 21 countries which comprise the World Heritage Committee, Barbados was currently the only "State Party" from this region.

Mr. Lashley told his audience they were taking the first step to laying the foundation for the identification of a Regional World Heritage Strategy and moving towards the development of a Regional World Heritage Agenda and the establishment of a CARICOM World Heritage Mechanism. He added that officials were going to explore the possibility of establishing a Caribbean World Heritage Fund, which would, among other things, assist in training heritage experts and site managers and encourage community and youth involvement in decision-making processes concerning their heritage.

"The Fund would provide support for the identification, nomination and listing of Caribbean heritage sites on the World Heritage List, giving priority to those countries and cultures which are at present underrepresented on that list. The fund would also provide financial support and technical assistance for the conservation and management of heritage sites in the Caribbean," he disclosed.

Barbados is currently seeking nomination for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison to be inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The Management Plan for Historic Bridgetown, which is expected to govern the period 2010 to 2015, was recently submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The island should know in mid-June if its nomination has been successful.

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