Davos 2018 Conference of European Ministries of Culture

ICCROM’s Director-General, Dr Webber Ndoro, led an ICCROM team at a Conference of European Ministers of Culture from 20 – 22 January in Davos, Switzerland. The conference took place just before the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.

The theme of the meeting was, “Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe” with Baukultur defined as, “embracing every human activity that changes the built environment.”

The conference was chaired by Mr Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, and was also addressed by the founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab. The meeting was coordinated by Mr Oliver Martin, Head of the Section on Cultural Heritage and Historic Monuments, Swiss Federal Office for Culture. Martin is also the President of the ICCROM Council.

Davos 2018 Conference of European Ministries of Culture

The Davos Declaration, centrepiece of the meeting, elaborates the definition of Baukultur as follows: “The whole built environment, including every designed and built asset that is embedded in and relates to the natural environment, is to be understood as a single entity. Baukultur encompasses existing buildings, including monuments and other elements of the cultural heritage, as well as the design and construction of contemporary building, infrastructure, public spaces and landscapes.”

Dr Ndoro made his intervention on behalf of ICCROM as an introduction to the second theme of the conference, “Our vision of a high-quality Baukultur for Europe.” In his intervention, Ndoro emphasized the importance of including concern for high-quality architecture and urban spaces, respect for our natural heritage and rural environments, as well as a need to support the continuation of intangible heritage practices as part of a high-quality Baukultur. Ndoro also stressed the need to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and pledged to work with the Ministers of Culture of Europe to provide the necessary capacity building for all those who have an impact on the built environment.

Davos 2018 Conference of European Ministries of Culture

To conclude, Ndoro underlined that Europe should also interact with other world regions to share strategies and good examples of high-quality Baukultur. Citing ICCROM’s programme in the Arab States region, as well as renewed priorities in Africa and Latin America, he noted that ICCROM’s programme could provide a venue to allow for continued exchanges at the international level to promote this important concept.

In addition to ICCROM, other organizations represented included UNESCO, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and Europa Nostra. For her part, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, stressed the high symbolism of the conference during the very first month of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

The event was also an opportunity to meet with individual European culture ministers, including Alice Bah Kuhnke, Minister for Culture and Development of Sweden.

At the conclusion of the conference, the Davos Declaration 2018 was unanimously adopted by the ministers of culture in attendance.