Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center: Vietnam a role model in preserving and promoting heritages

WVR - Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo believed that Vietnam is a role model in managing, preserving and promoting values of heritages and hoped that Vietnam will share its experience with other members.
Giám đốc Trung tâm Di sản thế giới UNESCO Lazare Eloundou Assomo trả lời phỏng vấn Báo Thế giới & Việt Nam. (Ảnh: Tuấn Anh)
Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo during his interview with The World & Vietnam Report. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

At the invitation of Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc, Chairman of the Vietnam National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Mr. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center, have paid a working visit to Vietnam on March 24-27.

On the occasion of his first visit to Vietnam, Director Assomo shared his experience and insights with The World & Vietnam Report.

Dear Mr. Director, first and foremost, we are delighted to have you here in Vietnam. How have your trip been so far?

I was very happy to have this opportunity to be invited by the authorities of Vietnam, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to come and visit the wonders of this country.

During my time in the country, I have visited three World Heritage sites including the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Cultural Landscape of Trang An and the Natural Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay. I was thoroughly impressed by the commitments of the people and the government to preserve these wonders, especially the way the local communities, the provincial authorities have been involved together to work with the government.

If there is something that I can keep in mind from the trip, it is the understanding that how these heritages would be important to people. For example, the Thang Long Citadel is essential not only for Hanoian, but also the entire Vietnam, because it is the symbol of the nation and a holy site for the people. In addition, not only it is the pride of Vietnam, but also it can provide additional knowledge for visitors who wish to learn and understanding about the history of Vietnam.

I was also moved by the fact that heritage sites of Vietnam are the sources for many socio-economic developments.

Trang An, for instance, contributes to the livelihood of the community and the empowerment of women. Therefore, it plays an important role in the provincial and national socio-economic development. I was very interested to see the community-based approach. which involved the community, the government, the local authorities, private sectors and investors.

In Ha Long Bay, I have also seen tourism management, as it enabled the tourists to visit and understand the importance of these natural World Heritage sites from their personal experience.

Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center: Vietnam a role model in preserving and promoting heritages
Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son received Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo on March 27th. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

As you have said, you have been very impressed when you visit all the cultural heritages in Vietnam. The government of Vietnam have always stressed the importance of heritage preservation, protection and promotion. After your experience in the country, what are your suggestions for us to further improve effectiveness on its efforts, in accordance to UN sustainable development goals?

We had the opportunity to discuss this issue of preservation and socio-economic development in the conference on last Friday with all the World Heritage site managers. Each of them shared his/her experience, as I also provided the World Heritage Center views.

One of the important lessons was how the preservation of cultural heritages has become a factor in the national socio-economic development. It is important to make sure that there is a balance between preservation of cultural heritages and socio-economic development, so that socio-economic development does not impact on the World Heritage sites’ values. Because otherwise, such cultural heritages will be put at risk.

For recommendation, I think that it is absolutely important to make sure that any projects involving preservation of world heritage sites must take socio-economic development into consideration. Not only it will empower the local community, but also it will serve to preserve the environment, like what I have seen in Trang An. This balance is important. Therefore, planning more activities and taking this into consideration would be essential. Vietnam has experienced this already. It can continue to be a role model and share such knowledge to other countries.

What is your evaluation on Vietnam’s contributions to UNESCO’s recent work, especially when the country has actively participated in three different mechanisms of UNESCO (UNESCO Executive Board, Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Advisory Committee of the Global Geopark Network, 2020-2024 term)?

Vietnam is a very important member state. In the past, the country has already been a member of the World Heritage Committee. The Country has shown a great commitment in preservation of heritage. When it comes to its contribution to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, Vietnam is a role model.

The country has shown that by celebrating the fifth anniversary of the World Heritage Convention last September, which brought together different experts from various countries, including the presence of Madame Audrey Azouley, the Director-General of UNESCO. It reflects the achievements of the Convention in Vietnam, but also on the future of the World Heritage Convention itself.

Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center: Vietnam a role model in preserving and promoting heritages
Director of UNESCO World Heritage Center Lazare Eloundou Assomo spoke at the International Conference on promoting the role of world cultural and natural heritage in sustainable development in Vietnam held on March 24th in Hanoi. (Photo: Nguyen Hong)

Can you provide some potentials, as well as focuses in Vietnam – UNESCO World Heritage Center upcoming cooperation?

First of all, I am sure Vietnam will continue to sustain its efforts to preserve World Heritage sites, showing that it is important to maintain the credibility of the World Heritage system by ensuring the sustainability of its actions. Only by showing the sustainability of our World Heritage sites that our credibility will be maintained.

In addition, Vietnam is already responding to some of the numerous challenges we are facing, including climate change. Currently, many World Heritage sites are feeling the impacts of forest fire, sea erosion, even coral bleaching… I believe that all the member states and states parties of the World Heritage Convention need to come together to start seeking the best solution to deal with the impact of climate changes to World Heritage sites in the coming years.

Thank you very much!

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