Friday, April 19, 2024

Lamanai Archaeological Reserve and Cultural Landscape named to 2022 World Monuments Watch


World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced that the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve and its wider Cultural Landscape has been named to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, a selection of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. These sites powerfully demonstrate pressing global challenges of climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, underscoring the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them. Lamanai is an archaeological site whose physical attributes represent diverse and contested histories of the Maya, Spanish, Chinese and British descendants in Belize, functioning as an ‘outdoor classroom’ where local and international tourists can interact with the monuments and buildings of Belize’s historical past. The site is as socially significant today as it was 3,000 years ago, due in part to its longevity, its association with historical events and their memory in the present, its symbolism for descendant, indigenous and migrant groups and its contribution to nation-building. A sustainable future for Lamanai is contingent upon progressive collaboration and balancing management, tourism, natural and cultural resource protection, cultural memory and community quality of life. Launched in 1996 with founding sponsor American Express, the Watch is announced every two years and includes heritage places nominated by individuals and community-based organizations across the globe. The program has been a proven tool for raising awareness of sites in need of protection and galvanizing action and support for their preservation. To date, WMF has contributed more than $110 million toward projects at more than 300 Watch sites, with the visibility provided by the Watch helping communities leverage an additional $300 million from other sources. Heritage Education Network Belize believes that “Culture and heritage are holistic concepts, holding salience in every aspect of life. We are dedicated to the power of these concepts by strengthening ties and communication between the many stakeholders of Belize’s culture and heritage to ensure accurate representation and sustainable social, environmental, and economic development.” “Saving irreplaceable cultural heritage has never been more important,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of WMF. “The daunting global challenges facing heritage in the twenty-first century require innovative, sustainable, and replicable solutions. By supporting communities in preserving the places they treasure most, we can strengthen social bonds and foster a greater understanding that our futures as global citizens are inextricably linked.” Representing 24 countries and nearly 12,000 years of history, the 2022 Watch encompasses a broad range of examples of how global challenges manifest and intersect at heritage sites, providing opportunities to improve the lives of communities as they adapt for the future. The full list of 2022 Watch sites is available online here or via the link , with elaboration on themes below:
● Climate change: As global warming continues to intensify, innovative methods and traditional knowledge are necessary to mitigate its impact on heritage places.
● Underrepresentation: Inequities in heritage result in oversight and neglect of many significant places. Greater efforts should be made to amplify narratives that tell a more textured, just, and complete story of humanity.
● Imbalanced Tourism: Both overtourism and lack of visitation endanger heritage places and often sideline or disrupt local communities. Sustainable tourism strategies are needed to recalibrate these impacts and ensure just outcome for local residents.
● Crisis Recovery: Armed conflict, natural disaster, and other types of destruction can cause irreparable damage to heritage places and communities. Community-led preservation efforts can participate in building resilience and regenerating the social fabric in places affected by crisis.


The local nominator, Heritage Education Network Belize (HENB) is a nonprofit organization established in 2020 and led by Belizean and international archaeologists and heritage professionals and Belizean volunteers with 40+ years of collective experience in the field. HENB is dedicated to innovative and sustainable ways to understand and safeguard culture and heritage. Our methods focus on community engagement, research, advocacy, capacity building, development and education to empower local communities and stakeholders to create and maintain sustainable lifeways through culture.

World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world’s diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MoECST) is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all Belizeans are given an opportunity to acquire those knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for their own personal development and for full and active participation in the development of the nation. MoECST aims to create an inclusive, accessible, equitable, high quality and technologically driven Education System for Belize, capable of fostering the development of good, productive citizens. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology, the World Monuments Fund and Heritage Education Network Belize all have a shared, vested interest in enriching people’s lives through heritage stewardship. As such, MoECST, through the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), ensures Heritage Education Network Belize of its support and looks forward to opportunities for future collaboration throughout the two-year nomination period of Lamanai Archaeological Reserve and its wider Cultural Landscape. MoECST, NICH and the Institute of Archaeology collaboratively aim to work with the nominator, Heritage Education Network Belize and the World Monuments Fund to develop and implement a project which underscores shared values for the decolonization of historical narratives through representation, community participation and the integration of the cultural and creative sectors in historical interpretation.

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