Being the biggest “museums” yet to be fully discovered by the public, the waters of the oceans, seas, lakes and rivers guard in their depth broad records of the history of humankind and the traces of its interaction with the aquatic environment. In the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, these “footprints of human existence” span from ancient vestiges of Pre-Colombian watercrafts and ritual objects to the earliest European trade shipwrecks, and embrace the first colonial settlements in the region, such as those of Port Royal (Jamaica). Alongside these remains, these waters safely watch aircraft wrecks, submerged landscapes and prehistoric settlements, underwater caves with signs of human habitation, as well as scattered findings such as lost or abandoned objects.
In the framework of UNESCO´s 2020/2021 Programme and Budget (40 C/5), and in compliance with the Culture Sector Main Line of Action 1 (Protecting, conserving, promoting and transmitting culture and heritage for dialogue and development), Expected Result 4 (Underwater cultural heritage identified, protected and sustainably managed by Member States, in particular through the wide ratification and effective implementation of the 2001 Convention), UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean (Havana, Cuba) and UNESCO Cluster Office in Quito and Representation to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela (Quito, Ecuador) with the support of the Cluster office for Caribbean (Kingston, Jamaica) intend to promote, in coordination with all other offices in the region, the use of UNESCO Training Manual for the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Due to the restrictions enforced in the context of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, UNESCO is currently designing an online training course that contributes to protecting underwater cultural heritage and promoting its relevance within 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thus recognizing that one of the main challenges for its protection lies in providing knowledge and adequate capacities for its study, conservation and management.
This initiative, which aims at training university students and teachers in archaeology from the region, has received the financial and technical support from the International Programme for Maritime Heritage of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands / Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (RCE) – an executive body of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) – is the Netherlands’ centre of expertise for tangible heritage. They coordinated the adaption of the abovementioned manual to the Latin America and the Caribbean context and financially support this training. The forecasted capacity-building course will capitalize those activities that UNESCO developed in the past with the purpose of providing technical assistance to strengthen the implementation of the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, as well as to meet countries’ needs regarding archeological scientific and practical research, education on underwater cultural heritage, network-building among experts and underwater archaeologists, experience exchange between countries, whose identification emerged during several regional and national conferences and meetings.
The call for application will be opened from May 12, 2021, until June 30, 2021, at 23:59 Havana (Cuba) time. Applications containing all required documentation, as detailed in paragraph “Required documents to apply”, must be sent to one of the following email addresses according with the country in which the applicant is currently attending his/her studies or developing his/her academic activities.
Applicants must indicate in the object of the email the following text: Application to UNESCO regional course on underwater cultural heritage. Applications received after the indicated deadline will not be taken into account.