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May 20, 2010

Official Presentation of ITKI – International Traditional Knowledge Institute

ITKI Official Presentation in Florence - May 12th, 2010

Promoted by UNESCO, it is recently born ITKI – International Traditional Knowledge Institute.

The Institute will be dedicated to the study and the valorization of traditional knowledge, and traditional techniques: thus, their possible cultural and regional differences; as well as their possible application within contemporary engineering.

For instance, ITKI will collect ancient information and solutions related to the desertification, to water and energy suppies, and to flood’s issues.

The innovative Institute – which can and wants to contribute to the world’s green economy – was officially presented on May 12th, 2010 at the Centro Congressi al Duomo in Florence, Italy. The Centro Congressi al Duomo is  itself member of  Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue, a project aiming to promote intercultural dialogue through a better understanding of  local traditional knowledge and sites.

All ITKI’s Founder Members attended the press conference: Pietro Laureano, UNESCO Consultant and President of IPOGEA; Luciano Bartolini, City Manager of  Bagno a Ripoli, where the Institute’s headquarter will be established; Renzo Crescioli, Florence Town Councillor for the Environment;   Michael Carrington, Director of Nobrega Foundation; Paolo Del Bianco, President of Fondazione Romualdo Del Bianco and Promoter of  Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue; Mauro Perini, President of Water Right Foundation.

Moreover, UNESCO Vice-Director Francesco Bandarin took part in the official presentation through a Skype videocall, and said that traditional knowledge and techniques:

“sono un giacimento di possibilità che si vanno perdendo, con l’affermarsi della monocultura del cemento e anche con gli spostamenti di popolazioni. È successo in Italia negli anni ’50, sta succedendo in Cina dove ogni anno 10 milioni di abitanti lasciano i villaggi per concentrarsi nelle aree urbane”.

In conclusion, traditional knowledge is recognized as part of our intangible heritage, and – as Pietro Laureano stated – they become precious elements for the preservation of  the environment, for our future landscape, and for starting the third industrial revolution based on  green economy.

– Post by Alessandra Brignola –

May 13, 2009

Former ICCROM Director writes about Life Beyond Tourism

Life Beyond Tourism
by Marc Laenen – Former ICCROM General Director


“Life beyond tourism” is a brilliant initiative responding to a crucial role for cultural heritage care and work in development: ”opening it up” for society after decades of conservation theory and practice. In UNESCO, ICCROM, ICOMOS, ICOM, CIA and other international organizations conservation of cultural heritage has been strongly promoted and framed in development policies and strategies. Working methods and interdisciplinary partnerships have been investigated, tested, refined and disseminated in charters, recommendations and guidelines, in manuals and other publications and training programs.

The next question however is how cultural heritage can be embedded or integrated in social and spatial development, how cultural heritage can become raw material for development of cultural landscapes, urban and rural social and spatial fabric, how its experience by the local population and their visitors, the tourists, can be sustained and how its conservation can be ensured trough development. Life beyond tourism offers an important instrument for such objectives.

Towards integral and integrated value based heritage work: a basis for “opening up” cultural heritage in social development and planning. The theoretical references.

Cultural heritage has been used to underscore cultural identity of societies and to enhance their cultural specificity in a culturally and economically globalizing world. One of the motives behind  the promotion of cultural diversity is that mankind needs more than one mirror to recognize itself. Whereas in Romanticism such conservation has been idealized and “museifyed”, today conservation is being interpreted as a dynamic social process aiming at the creative and specific continuity of  heritage values of societies and their environment, a shared responsibility off all. Its conservation offers at the same time an environment of human scale responding to human and humane perceptions, conditions and expectations.
However cultural heritage conservation and the enhancement of cultural diversity needs framing in a more general development policy and should be proved as being instrumental for quality of life and well being of individuals and societies in their living environment as, among others, the UNDP programmes pointed out in the seventies of last century. These development policies are based on an interculturally accepted image of mankind and the recognition that not all existing cultural patterns and living cultural heritage correspond to this vision and still have a way to go, which is not adopted by all communities. Certainly not in an era in which a rather strict conservative interpretation of heritage care is considered as a right of heritage communities.

The interpretations of the notion heritage has changed over time: It developed from the elitist to the vernacular, from the remote past to recent past and from the tangible to the intangible. In fact local population makes no analytical, administrative nor intellectual distinction in their heritage experience. They experience their heritage as a holistic issue because the intrinsic relationship between all heritage expressions and their coherent anchoring in their immediate living environment. In fact cultural landscapes, townscapes and rural areas are context of heritage and heritage at the same time, object of development and subject to decisions. We inherit these cultural environments and have the responsibility to manage them with care for today and for those who come after us. Distinction between heritage sectors is only made in governmental administrative systems and in educational or tourist programmes. This leads to the option that heritage work should be managed in environmental context, that all heritage sectors should be considered together in regional or local development and that all relevant institutions and organizations (museums, institutes of immovable cultural heritage and those dealing with intangible heritage) are invited to work structurally together while opening up heritage for the local (heritage) communities ( = integral approach).

The essence and at the same the substance of cultural heritage are heritage values and their significance for heritage communities in society. Development and decisions are to be based on a general humanistic morale and commitment for the betterment of society and environment. Furthermore is the (creative) renovation and recalibrating of heritage values a key issue for the continuity of the genius loci, the specific character of the place and more generally for the enhancement of cultural diversity. It boils down to the reinterpretation of these values and to giving them a new relevant significance for us today and to their integration with other sectors in development: economy (tourism), cultural development, natural environment, education, well being, and above all planning. (= integrated approach).

Opening up cultural heritage for society and environment means its sustainable experience for the local population and for their visitors by linking it structurally with physical environment, economy, cultural development, social development, education etc. Integral and integrated approaches can be instrumental to reach these objectives.

Substantive tourism

Tourism has an important potential to convey substantive information about cultural heritage to target audiences (… click here to read more …)

February 6, 2009



“Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue” is an association that proposes to disseminate, both in Italy and abroad, the founding principles of an initiative known as Life Beyond Tourism® originally formulated by Paolo Del Bianco, the promoter and chairman of the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation in Florence, and designed to promote a form of tourism based on values rather than on the mere offer of services to the traveler.

To date, Life Beyond Tourism® has attracted the patronage of ICCROM, of the Tuscan Regional Authority, of the Florence Provincial Authority and of the Florence Municipal Authority.

Transcending consumer tourism, the cultural initiative known as Life Beyond Tourism® aims to help foster and disseminate such universal values as respect and harmony among peoples through intercultural dialogue and an awareness of, and familiarity with, cultural diversity and traditional knowledge.

Life Beyond Tourism® was officially launched in the Salone dei Duecento, in Florence’s city hall, Palazzo Vecchio, on 15 March 2008 (a practical experiment began on that date at the Vivahotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio and is still under way) with the participation of

– Deputy Mayor Eugenio Giani

– Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery

– Maurizio Bossi, director of the G.P. Vieusseux Literary and Scientific Cabinet’s Center for Romantic Studies

– ICCROM Director General Mounir Bouchenaki, represented for the occasion by Andrzej Tomaszewski, chairman of the ICOMOS International Committee for the Theory and Philosophy of Conservation and Restoration, and by Limburg Cultural Heritage Center Director Marc Laenen, both of whom are Emeritus Director Generals of ICCROM (International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property)

– and in the presence of Maurizio di Stefano, chairman of the Italian National ICOMOS Committee

– along with over 90 experts from 23 countries on three continents, and of an authoritative audience of Florentine citizens.

The launch of the “Life Beyond Tourism for Intercultural Dialogue” Association was designed to provide a framework for the implementation and practical application of a “Declaration of Intent” signed on 16 March 2008 by those who attended the project’s presentation the day before. This declaration acknowledges the importance both of the “Life Beyond Tourism” project per se and of getting it started; it voices the hope that the project’s promotion, development and immediate practical application may take off also at the international level, in harmony with such international and intergovernmental institutions as UNESCO, ICCROM, UNWTO, the Council of Europe, and with such International NGO’s as ICOMOS, IUCN and ICOM. It also aims to promote the development of training curricula in cooperation with UNESCO, ICCROM, UNWTO and the tourist industry in order to further intercultural dialogue.

Life Beyond Tourism® is designed to help as vast a number of tourists as possible impart a quantum leap to the quality of their demand — a demand aimed not only, or not so much, at standard tourist industry services, and more at the world of values which can provide the real motivation behind those services, thus making tourists’ own investment in time and money more fruitful. In keeping with this aim, the Association aims to help to make cultural heritage easier to interpret and more easily comprehensible, as a crucial tool for fostering intercultural dialogue and an awareness of, and familiarity with, cultural diversity and traditional knowledge.

At the same time, “Life Beyond Tourism” hopes to be able to help boost an awareness in the tourist industry itself of the importance not so much of increasing the amount of services offered, as of fostering intercultural dialogue, and of using healthy competition in that field as a yardstick of success. In conclusion, Life Beyond Tourism is designed to change the current cliché “Been there, done that… “ into “I have familiarized with … “, “I have realized …. “, “I have understood that there is a whole world of values out there for me to delve into and embrace”; also, it aims to help boost people’s awareness, limiting or restricting the number of their potential yet inappropriate “certainties”. Thanks to the reversal of perspective proposed by “Life Beyond Tourism”, that very tourism which is helping today to ‘standardize’ the world and to threaten both our tangible and our intangible universal heritage, can help to safeguard and to enhance the diversity of expression that is the very lifeblood of that heritage.

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