Some 200 culture and museum leaders of the Asia Pacific region convened this week (December 3-7) at the newly-opened Iloilo Convention Center in Iloilo City, for the International Council of Museum- Asia Pacific 2015 Conference and General Assembly, dubbed as ICOM ASPAC 2015.
ICOM is a global network of more than 35,000 culture and museum institutions and professionals that seek to conserve the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Its Philippine National Committee, ICOM-Philippines headed by chairwoman Gina V. Barte, is hosting this year’s event.
ICOM president, Hans-Martin HInz, addressed the event at the event’s opening, together with the ICOM-ASPAC chair, Dr. Song Xinchao of ICOM-China and deputy director of the Directorate of State Cultural Heritage of the Peoples’ Republic of China.
This year’s theme, ‘Pathways for Museums for a Sustainable Society,’ promotes ICOM’s response to changes in today’s social environment and represents ICOM’s contribution to the domain of culture and museum building. This is part of ICOM’s response to the global call of uniting its partners to create the greatest impact in becoming a cultural driving force towards sustainable development.
The link between sustainable development issues and the core function of museums to educate the public about their cultural heritage is becoming more pronounced in recent years. The world is increasingly torn by conflicts and violence, where museums and cultural heritage sites have become targets of destruction or end up as collateral damage, in situations of terrorism and war.
Meanwhile, disasters resulting from extreme weather conditions continue to endanger museums and collections that represent irreplaceable culture and heritage. Poverty and growing population have led to neglect in some countries, making museums and cultural objects to pillage and theft.
ICOM-ASPAC in Iloilo is gathering key leaders of culture and museums in the region as well as other countries, as one community in an effort to recognize its role in defining, promoting, and implementing sustainable practices.
The ongoing conference is currently exploring take off points that will bring about new knowledge and best practices of each of the 24 ICOM-ASPAC member countries. The goal is to create pathways that puts culture and museums at the core of sustainable development in the countries/regions where the ICOM-ASPAC is present, including Australia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam (observer), China, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, and Russia.
“As the country host, the ICOM-Philippines is looking forward to having our colleagues and our sustainable development allies, learn from the plenary discussions and workshop sessions,” said Barte. “But most of all, we want to discover our own cultural treasures through the study tours of significant cultural sites, museums, and exhibits and other activities lined up for the event.”
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