Considering ICT for ICH

2016 information officers meeting ⓒ ICHCAP

For the first time, ICH information officers gathered to explore ways of using information and communication technology (ICT) for safeguarding ICH and to lead activities. ICHCAP held the Information Officers Meeting for Safeguarding ICH in the Asia-Pacific Region: Using Information/ICT on 6 November in Jeonju, Republic of Korea. In participation were ICH and IT experts from six NGOs in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Micronesia, Pacific Islands, Thailand as well as representatives from the UNESCO Dhaka Office, Chonbuk National University of Korea, and the Korea Culture Information Service Agency. Considering the participants as main actors for ICH safeguarding and considering their expertise in ICH and ICT, ICHCAP adopted the term ‘information officers’ and plans to maintain network relationships among them.

The participants agreed that ICT has potential and significance as part of ICH safeguarding activities driven by or targeting toward specific communities. They emphasized that the 2003 Convention and its Operational Directives should be understood before taking action and that there is a need to understand limitations facing some communities or countries.

In the first session, participants provided case studies, the present conditions, and tasks in using ICT in each country/region. Mr. Saifur Rashid, Consultant Anthropologist from Nagorik Uddyog, Banladesh, shared information on his country’s need for establishing a national ICH web portal to enhance information access of Bangladeshi communities and the international communities. Mr. Yeshi Wangchuk, Researcher, Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research, introduced their activities on digitalizing ICH resources and publishing them online, and he mentioned issues on data storage, management, and Internet access. Mr. Lokeshi Paliwal, Project Head, Merijanmbhumi from India introduced Merijanmbhumi, a digital information-sharing platform reconnecting emigrant villagers with their home communities and suggested that it can be used for sharing ICH resources and information. Mr. Larry Raigetal, President, Waa’gey, Micronesia, shared his experiences and insights on the limitations on using sacred knowledge. Mr. Dennis Redeker, Co-founder, Island Ark Project Foundation, introduced the Island Ark Project, which aims to digitally safeguard ICH, and he shared project principles, including bottom-up approaches to culture.

During the following session, ICHCAP shared its vision and plan on strengthening the foundation of ICT in the Asia-Pacific region and invited the participants to collaborate. Currently, ICHCAP focuses more on establishing mechanisms for sharing and diffusing information which produced and existed by various ICH stakeholders rather than producing, collecting, managing, and possessing information by itself. In this context, it introduced the Supporting ICH Website Creation Using Templates project as a relevant measure. Targeting communities, groups, and organizations, this pilot project aims to support model web templates for managing and publishing ICH information. The project will start in 2017 by identifying key collaborators and calling for participants to use template.

The meeting will continue its in-depth discussions on using information for safeguarding ICH and collaborative actions through online or offline communication.