First ASEAN World Heritage Summit to Take Place in Sukhothai

Thailand, ASEAN, culture, Heritage, Event

Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai (Photo: Creative Commons)

ASEAN will organise from August 2 to 4 in Sukhothai the first Heritage Summit looking at ways to better preserve and integrate heritage into tourism and people’s daily life.

The recent release of new UNESCO World Heritage Sites for 2018 did unfortunately not add any new cultural sites in Southeast Asia, despite the presentation of many sites from Southeast Asian countries. Southeast Asia counts already 38 listed sites with many more submitted for review to acknowledge the special value for mankind of culture, heritage, history and landscaping.

Among the sites being presented for a listing this year, Indonesia had selected the historical town of Batavia in Jakarta while Thailand was looking at inscribing Phra That Phanom temple in Nakhon Phanom; Laos proposed Hin Nam No National Protected Area while Myanmar submitted again Bagan and the Philippines Mayon Volcano National Park; from Vietnam, authorities submitted Cat Ba Archipelago near Halong Bay as well as Ba Be – Na Hang Natural Heritage Area. The latter had already been recognised back to 2004 as an ASEAN Heritage Garden.

The nomination by ASEAN shows the increasing interest of ASEAN countries to preserve and highlight national heritage sites. Learning and sharing how to manage the world heritage sites sustainably among the 10-member states in ASEAN is vital.

This is why ASEAN is organising in Sukhothai the first Heritage Summit for the region. The choice of Sukhothai -itself a UNESCO Wold Heritage- was a natural one as the old Buddhist sacred site is one of the best preserved in Southeast Asia and a remarkable model of sustainable development. The site has been governed by the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public organisation), Thailand or known as DASTA. The “built to thrive” journey through a joint effort of all stakeholders has made an integrated and community-based management model recognised as one of its world-class case examples.

DASTA will therefore call for action to convene the first ASEAN world heritage summit under the auspices of Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports, HE Weerasak Kowsurat.

The objectives of this summit are set forth as followed.

  • Knowledge sharing about inclusive and sustainable management within the World Heritage site
  • Understand the essences of World Heritage Convention (by UNESCO) in a changing environment
  • Joint force to strengthening protection of ASEAN world heritage sites
  • Explore ways to effectively engage communities and empower communities to achieve sustainable tourism development goals
  • Enhance thematic route and connectivity among ASEAN world heritage sites with a focus on Air and Land Connectivity

The Summit will take place between August 2 and 4 looking at ways to enhance culture in the region and turn it into a sustainable tourism model. The challenge being often in Asia to see valuable cultural areas being turned into over-commercialised destinations which threatens, alters and ultimately can destroy the authenticity of the site.

Heritage as a legacy from the past to today, and to future generations will be the central theme of Shigeru Aoyagi, Regional Director, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education. WAs cultural and natural heritage are  considered both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration, UNESCO will share the status quo of the world heritage sites.

Issues and challenges will be open up for further discussion during the summit. Urgent matters which should be call for action among ASEAN member states will be highlighted while the ten ASEAN countries will present cases of heritage preservation.

Each country will address one of the following issues:

  1. Empower communities for inclusiveness in managing the sites
  2. Enhance creativities for responsible tourism in the World heritage sites
  3. Embrace measure to manage
  4. Employ the balancing act between development and protection
  5. Engage multi-stakeholders to uphold tangible and intangible heritage

Many events -cultural, culinary as well as post tours will be organised integrating all the component of what could be defined today as part of a heritage experience.

The Summit is still open to registration under The 1st ASEAN World Heritage Summit 2018 | ZipEvent – Inspiration Everywhere.