Summary of the ICOMOS 2019 Scientific Symposium in Marrakesh

ICOMOS Symposium Marrakesh 2019 Rural HeritageThe theme of the ICOMOS Advisory Committee Scientific Symposium this year was “Rural Heritage – Landscapes and beyond”. It was held on 17 October 2019 at Marrakesh, Morocco, and was a rich and engaging day of presentations and dialogue. The call for papers, issued in February 2019, thoroughly explored the relevant topics, guiding presentations and posters toward the themes of rural culture, economics, environment, society and heritage, including a special focus on Moroccan heritage.


The call drew 164 responses from the ICOMOS community with an excellent range of topics to address. After a double peer review process, 12 panels and 12 Knowledge Cafes accounting for about 70 speakers were accepted for presentation and about 100 posters were accepted for posting and exploration by all attending. The day began with greetings form Toshiyuki Kono, President of ICOMOS, and Khalid El Harrouni, ICOMOS Morocco Symposium Coordinator. These official greetings were followed by an introduction to the Rural Heritage topic, the ICOMOS Rural Landscapes Principles – shaped by the ICOMOS IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes (ISC CL) and approved in 2017 – the pre-publication of the Symposium abstracts, PowerPoint presentations and posters through the University of Massachusetts Center for Heritage and Society, and the format of the day to come.

ICOMOS Marrakesh2019 Symposium Intro BetinaAdams

Introductory session of the Scientific Symposium - Photo credits: Betina Adams/ICOMOS

 In sequence there were 3 panels and 3 Knowledge Cafes offered each hour for four hours through the morning and afternoon. Sessions were presented in either English of French and the PowerPoint presentations generally followed the request to include both languages on their slides. These sessions were well managed by rapporteur and timekeeper volunteers organised by the ISC CL. The offerings were rich and engaging, fostering a high level of dialogue about the issues and opportunities explored. For example, speakers in more than one session stressed the importance of flipping the coin to examine how heritage can contribute to climate change mitigation by building upon heritage’s intrinsic qualities to manage change which offers mitigation vectors.

To close the day, a 90-minute wrap up session engaged everyone attending in a topical exchange which included Rural Heritage and: Rights-based approach; Climate Change; UN Sustainable Development Goals; Intangible Heritage of Spiritual Places; Rural Tourism; Migration; Productive Lands; Connecting Practices and Culture/Nature; Innovation; Rural Policies and Governance; Legislation and Finance. Once again, the dialogue was illuminating and demonstrated the richness of the Symposium offerings. The milestone of this Symposium is a definitive scientific publication of all the offerings on a permanent website hosted by UMASS Center for Heritage and Society (UMASS CHS). In the closing session Elizabeth Brabec, Director of UMASS CHS and ISC CL Contributing Member, presented the web traffic for the Symposium of about 100 hits from Morocco and more than 400 worldwide. This demonstrated a huge success for ICOMOS to bring forward thought leadership in the field of historic preservation immediately to a broad audience.

Patricia M. O’Donnell, FASLA, AICO, F.US/ICOMOS
President, ICOMOS IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes

Picture at the top: Mohammad VI Cultural and Administraive Complex, Marrakesh. Photo credits: Patricia O'Donnell/ICOMOS

See also

Picto doigtVisit the website of the Symposium

Picto doigtDownload the programme of the Symposium

Picto doigtAccess to online abstracts, presentations and posters

Picto doigtMore information about the 2019 ICOMOS Advisory Committee and Annual General Assembly

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