Closing address by Minister Mashatile at the International conference on “living with world heritage in Africa”
The Deputy Director General of UNESCO; Mr. Getachew Engida
Representative of the African Union, Prof. Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe
Distinguished Ministers of Culture, Ministers of Tourism, Ministers of Environment and Ministers of Minerals from the Africa Continent
Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps
The Chairperson and Members of the Board of Trustees of the African World Heritage Fund
Representatives of businesses
Representatives of communities who reside in and in proximity to World Heritage Properties
Ladies and gentlemen
We have come to the end of our Conference on “Living with World Heritage in Africa.”
This I can say without fear of contradiction that; ours has been a highly successful conference.
This conference brought together important stakeholders from government, the private sector and communities living in and around heritage sites.
It was indeed an inclusive and representative conference where as Africans we were able to exchange best practises and share knowledge on heritage preservation and sustainable development.
This conference will therefore be remembered for having ushered in a new and inclusive stakeholder framework for implementing good practises in both managing and preserving heritage on the African Continent and the rest of the world.
As indicated in our continent’s Second Position Paper, a product of this Conference, as a continent we were able to take stock of our achievements and challenges in heritage management and preservation.
This we did with a view to improving the implementation of the World Heritage Convention as a tool for human development.
This conference also reaffirmed that all our World Heritage Properties belong to and must be accessible to all and must first and foremost be managed in a manner that benefit communities living in and around those properties.
We also reaffirmed that heritage is unique and irreplaceable. It belongs to past, present, and future generations.
States Parties, working with all stakeholders in particular communities living in and around heritage sites must therefore plan for tomorrow and not only for today.
We must endeavour to develop long-term plans on the sustainability of our heritage properties.
This conference has also pronounced on the reality that heritage preservation and sustainable development are not mutually exclusive.
We emerge from this conference more convinced that we must protect our heritage sites and ensure that they also contribute towards the socioeconomic development of our societies.
This conference has once again reminded us of the importance of ongoing dialogue in finding lasting solutions to challenges facing the continent and the world.
This dialogue should inspire us to avoid conflicts in the continent as they affect our heritage sites and sustainable development of our continent.
The conference has also succeeded in consolidating a united African voice; a voice that represents our collective aspirations on the implementation of the Convention.
We take this opportunity to reiterate that; Africa has its own peculiarities and that these have to be taken into consideration in order to ensure that the continent benefits from the Convention.
We cannot continue to be dictated upon on issues that affect us!
We agree with communities that; “nothing about us without us!”
This conference pronounced that the rights and benefits from minerals extracted from our heritage sites also belong to communities living in and around the sites.
We were also unanimous that when decisions are taken about our heritage our voice must be heard by UNESCO and all its advisory bodies.
Equally as African states parties, we need to continue working together to ensure conservation and management of our heritage sites.
We therefore call upon African state parties to collaborate with one another in capacity building initiatives and exchange of expertise.
This will help in increasing the number of sites nominated into the World Heritage List. It will also help in strengthening the management of existing World Heritage Sites.
We have an obligation to support our institutions, including the African Union structures and the Africa World Heritage Fund.
This we must do because these structures are critical to the realisation of the goals we have set for ourselves at this conference here in Kopanong.
We take this opportunity to once again thank all those African Countries who have made pledges at this Conference to support the Africa World Heritage Fund.
On behalf of the government of South Africa, myself and the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Dr Joe Phaahla, would like to thank all of you fellow Ministers from the Continent for contributing to the success of this Conference.
I also like to thank the Mr Getachew Engida, DDG for UNESCO and Prof Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe from the AU for taking time to be with us in this important conference of our continent.
Let the sprit of cooperation and working together, that was so evident in the Conference, guide us as we together confront challenges facing our continent.
I also thank all those who made this Conference the resounding success that it has been; our service providers, the staff of the Department of Arts and Culture led by the DG Mr. Xaba, the Department of Environmental Affairs led by DDG Mr. Mkheteni, Dr Webber Ndoro and the entire Board of Trustees of the Africa World Heritage Fund, and all the Chairpersons and Rapporteurs of the sessions. Well done to all of you!
I wish you all a pleasant stay in our country and a safe journey home.