ICH’s contribution to SDGs project: the first international symposium was held (February 2023)

The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) held the first symposium in Nara, Japan on 1–2 February 2023 as a kick-off event of its new project “Research on ICH Contributing to SDGs – Intangible Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Cities and Communities”. This project started in FY 2022 to investigate the role of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) for sustainable cities and communities in achieving SDG 11.4[1], focusing on the cases of safeguarding and managing cultural and historical landscapes including World Heritage sites.

The event consisted of a symposium at the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties on the first day and an excursion at the Nara National Museum on the second day. The symposium was attended by 20 experts, including project partners, speakers from Australia, Tajikistan, the Philippines, and Japan, an expert from the UNESCO Beijing office, and a few Japanese experts as resource persons. In addition, 11 experts in the previous SDGs-related projects also joined the symposium online. The symposium was also open to the public and welcomed 55 online participants, mostly from the Asia-Pacific region.

The symposium began with a keynote lecture titled “Fusion of Intangible and Tangible” by Mr Motonaka, Director General of Nara National Research Institutes for Cultural Properties, Japan. Then, the results of preliminary case studies conducted by project partners of the project, namely, APSARA National Authority in Cambodia, iTaukei Institute of Languages and Culture in Fiji (online), and George Town World Heritage Incorporated in Malaysia, as well as various cases from the Asia-Pacific region such as Japan, Nepal, the Philippines, Tajikistan, and Vanuatu, in which ICH contributes to the safeguarding and management of historical/cultural landscapes were shared at the symposium. In the discussion session, participants exchanged their opinions on the roles that ICH play in the development and management of heritage landscapes, and the importance of safeguarding both tangible and intangible cultural heritage for sustainable community development. Please refer to the programme for specific presentation titles and presenters.

On the following day, participants attended an excursion at Nara National Museum, where they listened to the lectures by Council for Promoting New Learning Tourism in Nara to learn about its effort of promoting Nara city and tourism there by utilising cultural heritage in the context of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and SDGs.

Taking this opportunity, all project partners got together on a day before the symposium (31 January 2023), to report on their activities during this fiscal year and to discuss further project activities in the following years.

*This symposium was implemented within the framework of the “Platform for Future Co-Creation of UNESCO activities (International Grassroots UNESCO Activities)” commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), Japan.

[1] SDG 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.


  • Discussion at the symposium (1 February 2023)

  • Participants of the symposium