Системы сельскохозяйственного наследия мирового значения (ГИАХС)

GIAHS participates in the final meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean and UNESCO Urban Heritage Program

17 June 2024

Descripción de la imagen 
Cordoba, Spain  

Rome, Italy – The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office for Maghreb countries, with financial support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), concluded the final meeting of their groundbreaking program on "Urban Heritage and Traditional Building Skills in the Southern Mediterranean Region" on June 5-6.

Casa Árabe, Cordoba, Spain

The program, launched in July 2023, aimed to identify and promote best practices in raising awareness, preserving, and promoting vernacular architecture and traditional construction techniques. It sought to strengthen the cultural embeddedness of traditional solutions and their capacity to adapt to climate challenges, promote a sustainable local economy linked to the attractiveness of well-protected urban heritage, and create qualified jobs connected to traditional materials and techniques.

GIAHS Secretariat participation

The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Secretariat played a crucial role in the program by emphasizing the relevance of vernacular built heritage and its conservation in an agricultural context. On the second day of the meeting, Aurelie Fernandez from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented on “The role of oasis in triggering development in the inner parts of North African countries.” Her presentation highlighted how oasis systems, designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), are vital for development in these regions.

Fernandez showcased several recognized GIAHS, including the ksour of Figuig , the cold oasis and the argan-based agroecosystem in Morocco as well as the Gafsa Oasis in Tunisia. These oases are exemplary for their integration of traditional agricultural and built heritage that supportfood production and biodiversity. The GIAHS Secretariat underscored the importance of these traditional methods in enhancing community resilience against climate change and their relevance to contemporary challenges.

The presentation highlighted how these traditional systems form complex food systems where space and natural resource optimization have enabled oasis communities to thrive in extreme conditions and how vernacular buildings encompass all agricultural structures, such as dry-stone terraces and ingenious irrigation or water storage systems found in the GIAHS of North Africa. Ksour and remote mountain villages were cited as examples of these resilient systems.

UNESCO and GIAHS collaboration
Karim Hendili, Representative from UNESCO's regional office for the Maghreb emphasized the activities and relevance of world heritage in the sub-region. Both UNESCO and GIAHS speakers underscored the synergies between their programs and expressed a mutual desire to work jointly on the conservation and enhancement of North African oases and their associated knowledge.

Workshops and collaborative efforts
The program's journey began with the inaugural meeting held on 6 July 2023, in Barcelona, Spain, which gathered representatives from Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia, along with experts from national and international organizations. This was followed by a series of workshops in each participating country, fostering a collaborative environment for sharing knowledge and innovative solutions. The workshops took place in Tunis, Tunisia (5-7 December 2023), Ouarzazate, Morocco (28 February-1 March 2024), Adrar and Timimoun, Algeria (16-18 April 2024), and Nouakchott, Mauritania (9-10 May 2024).

Key highlights and discussions
A visit to the Mosque of Cordoba was a notable highlight of the final meeting. Discussions centered around built heritage and the importance of conservation, facilitating a dynamic exchange of ideas. The workshop allowed participants to share best practices, advancements, and challenges related to building practices using local materials.

Looking forward
The upcoming UNESCO conference on Oasis Systems in Tozeur is anticipated to be a significant step forward. This conference promises to advance the collaboration between Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and UNESCO, promoting the conservation and sustainable management of oasis systems and their invaluable heritage.

For more information on the outcomes of these workshops and future activities, stay tuned to the Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems website.