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Preserving the past to build the future: UNESCO Transcultura debated on the sustainability of natural and cultural heritage in the Caribbean

5 December 2023


Heritage managers in the Caribbean and Europe discussed sustainability strategies at an online event to identify opportunities for culture-based development.


Heritage is a crucial asset for economic development. Monuments, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes and nature reserves are not only sources of local pride but also attract visitors who wish to experience their beauty and historical significance. However, global warming, uncontrolled consumption patterns or degradation of the territories where heritage sites are located threaten communities' livelihoods and biological and cultural diversities. 

To discuss and promote strategies for the sustainability of this heritage, the UNESCO programme Transcultura: Integrating Cuba, the Caribbean and the European Union through Culture and Creativity, funded by the European Union, held an online debate on Tapping the Ecological Profit: Initiatives for the Sustainability of Natural Resources and Heritage, Cultural Landscapes and Archaeological Sites on 5 December 2023, in collaboration with the Natural Spaces Services Management (GSEN) of the Provincial Council of Barcelona (Spain). 


"Our habitats are the most complete definition of what we are as a society. We need to ensure that our interaction with the natural environment is based on principles of conservation, economic responsibility and on an adequate balance between addressing the social needs of wellbeing and renewing the material sources of this wellbeing."

 - Alessandra BorchiTranscultura Programme Coordinator -


During the event, experts from the Caribbean and Europe discussed how to connect natural resources and heritage, as well as cultural landscapes and archaeological sites, to cultural economy value chains and shared resilience strategies and income-generating initiatives based on the sustainable use of these resources.


"As managers of protected natural spaces, we recognize the interconnectedness of human health and the health of the planet. By partnering with local and regional stakeholders, we aim to foster a harmonious relationship between people and nature. This will not only provide accessible opportunities for health restoration but also cultivate a deeper appreciation for the environment, ultimately contributing to a sustainable economy."

 - Xavier RogetTourism and Culture Advisor of the Natural Parks Network of the Provincial Council of Barcelona, Spain -


The panellists also stressed that sustainable income generation means ensuring that natural resources and heritage are used in a way that does not compromise their availability for future generations, so it is vital to find ways of making economic benefits without depleting these resources or damaging the environment. 


"Thinking about our future as small island nations, means understanding that we are disproportionately vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change even though we emit less than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Our heritage has long been seen as a hindrance to development, when the reality is that it offers untapped resources which could be one of our main strengths to weather the storms yet to come."

 - Kara RoopsinghSenior Heritage Preservation and Research Officer at National Trust, Trinidad and Tobago -


The event was also the occasion to identify opportunities for collaboration between Caribbean and European stakeholders associated with natural resource and heritage management. Through this initiative, the Transcultura programme promotes regional integration, knowledge sharing and networking to boost career opportunities for young cultural professionals from 17 Caribbean countries.