Local to Global – New for 2024: UNESCO Site Cluster Meetings

Liam Smyth & Alison Smedley      –      January 15, 2024      –      8 min read

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In 2024, Local to Global will be prototyping six in-person workshops for UNESCO sites in different areas of the UK to explore shared challenges and opportunities together. With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to national lottery players, we will bring together six geographical clusters of Biosphere Reserves, Creative Cities, Global Geoparks and World Heritage sites for a series of gathering that will co-develop a more resilient network.

2024 marks the 25 year anniversary since the founding of Senedd Cymru (Welsh Parliament) and The Scottish Parliament (Pàrlamaid na h-Alba), and the historic devolution of powers to Northern Ireland.

A quarter of a century on, this topic is still hot on the political agenda with both the UK’s sitting and shadow governments backing devolution as a means to boost sustainable development. Two new trailblazer devolution deals were announced in March last year to foster local and regional power sharing for the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Combined Authorities and it is likely that similar schemes will follow in the near future.

For our UNESCO sites, important questions are being raised on how culture, nature and heritage sectors react and adapt to the new horizons that devolution will bring. Many sites have already begun to arrange themselves into national and regional clusters to share insight and strategy, with the success of Scotland’s UNESCO Trail providing particular inspiration to others.

The Local to Global team has recognised this trend, as well as the demand for more in-person meetings, and have sought to renegotiate uncommitted project spend to go towards testing out a new way of working. Next month, the team will convene a series of planning meetings online so each of the six geographic clusters will have a chance to co-design a workshop, to be held between March-August 2024.

At these planning meetings, participants will be asked to nominate a date, location, and a host site who will work with the Local to Global team to coordinate a half/full-day workshop that will bring together all other sites in their area. UKNC will cover the costs of these workshops up to the value of £2,000 for each gathering – prioritising travel support for site representatives. During the workshops, everyone will have a chance to learn from one another and deliver horizon-scanning activities that will map out assets, challenges, synergies and opportunities that are unique to each cluster.

The results of these workshops will be foundational to the UKNC’s next application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and will influence how a more resilient network of UNESCO sites in the UK will continue to be developed.

The Local to Global team will be in touch with UNESCO sites in the coming weeks to set up an online planning meeting. If you would like to express an early interest in being a host site for your region/nation then please reach out to Local to Global Project Administrator, Alison Smedley

The Local to Global project is made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.

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