ICOMOS represented at the 2024 UN Ocean Conference in Barcelona

UN Ocean Decade Conference ICOMOS

The 2024 United Nations Ocean Decade Conference - co-organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) - took place in Barcelona 10-12 April, 2024. The event centred around the identification of the future challenges and priorities for ocean knowledge and science. Experts from the ICOMOS International Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage (ICUCH) represented ICOMOS at the conference.

In collaboration with the Region of Catalonia and Barcelona City Council, the UN Ocean Decade Conference 2024 brought together ocean experts from around the world to address challenges surrounding climate change, food security, biodiversity, ocean economy, pollution, and natural hazards, in an effort to strengthen sustainable ocean management and promote science-based innovation worldwide.

"The significance of underwater cultural heritage in ocean governance cannot be overstated. As custodians of the ocean's cultural legacy, it is imperative that we recognize and preserve these submerged artifacts, sites, and landscapes. Underwater cultural heritage not only serves as a link to our past but also holds immense potential for shaping our future ocean governance strategies. [...]"

- Elena Perez-Alvaro, ICOMOS ICUCH Expert member

Aligned with the objectives of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030, the Side Event "Human Ocean – Where the Past Guides the Future – The Tangible and Intangible Heritage of the Ocean" on 9 April featured a presentation by ICOMOS ICUCH experts Elena Perez-Alvaro and Martjin Manders. Their presentation, titled "Potentials of underwater cultural heritage for science, tourism, and education," underscored the significance of the ocean's cultural dimension.

“Underwater cultural heritage is the result of the footprint we as humans have had on the world until present day. It therefore contains a wealth of information for us to learn about our past relationship with the ocean. We should be careful with it and use it as a resource. The management of the underwater cultural heritage can be well integrated into the overall management of the ocean as long as we take it into consideration at an early stage. The results of our protection, research and management are a true reward, and will benefit the many other studies such as those on biodiversity, pollution, tourism and climate change. Underwater cultural heritage should be treated as an integral part of the ocean.”

- Martjin Manders, ICOMOS ICUCH Expert member

ICOMOS ICUCH also hosted the Underwater Cultural Heritage Booth during the main conference. The booth was funded by the Government of Ireland in collaboration with The Ocean Foundation, and featured roundtable discussions, expert interviews and various engaging activities. 


Photo credits: IISD / Earth Negotiations Bulletin

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Read the Barcelona Statement

Picto doigtWatch Martjin Manders' interview

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