UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage project launched in Mozambique
In 2023, the Government of Flanders and UNESCO celebrate 25 years of collaboration. In the framework of that cooperation, Southern Africa is a priority region for implementation of cultural and heritage projects under the Flanders UNESCO Trust Fund. One of those projects, focusing on Underwater Cultural Heritage (UCH), was launched on 8 February on Ilha de Moçambique, in the presence of the Vice-Minister for Culture and Tourism of Mozambique, HE Fredson Bacar.
Flanders has a history with projects focused on preserving the rich maritime history of Mozambique Island, such as the rehabilitation of the San Sebastian Fortress and a regional training course on the legal protection and practical management of UCH. Over time, Flanders has gained solid expertise in this field. The new project, implemented by UNESCO in close partnership with Eduardo Mondlane University, in particular the Centre for Archaeology, Research and Resources (CAIRIM), builds on these precedents and aims to establish a centre of excellence for the conservation and research of UCH in Mozambique which will be based in the historic San Sebastian Fortress.
In her address, General Representative of Flanders, Dr Geraldine Reymenants underlined the important role which cultural heritage can play in boosting skills development, attracting sustainable tourism, job creation and economic development. She added that: “Cultural heritage is universal, and we should all be able to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage sites throughout the world. But it is also intensely personal. This is why the involvement of the local community is so crucial; not only in terms of job creation and to benefit economically, but that they too should be able to enjoy and take pride in this rich and unique heritage on their doorstep.”
Following the launch, Dr Reymenants visited the Fortress where CAIRIM director Dr Ricardo Teixeira Duarte gave her a tour of the premises for the future archaeology lab and Underwater Cultural Heritage museum.