Scotland's UNESCO designations come together to explore partnership opportunities

Representatives from Scotland’s network of UNESCO designations met at the Aberdeen Town House last month to identify opportunities to boost their profile and impact in Scotland and beyond. The meeting was convened by the UKNC and hosted by Aberdeen City Council, home to the Aberdeen Burgh Records that were inscribed onto the UK UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2011.

Participants from across the breadth of Scotland considered research insights from a new UKNC report on the impact and value of UNESCO in Scotland. Participants took part in a packed programme of collaborative, action-focused workshops; specific themes explored during the workshops included:

  • Educational initiatives delivered by Scotland’s UNESCO designations were discussed in a workshop session led by Professor Kay Livingston, Professor of Educational Research Policy and Practice at the University of Glasgow and a member of the UKNC Expert Network. Delegates explored the potential for UNESCO-linked educational initiatives in Scotland to underpin partnerships with other UNESCO designations around the world.
  • Tourism and Economic Development, in particular how a UNESCO designation could be more effectively leveraged to boost development in Scotland, were explored in a workshop led by Professor Martin Price, Chairholder for the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands and Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee. Drawing upon statistics from the UKNC’s 2015 Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK study, Professor Price identified that the UNESCO projects surveyed in Scotland generated an estimated £10.8 million in revenue from March 2014 to April 2015.
  • General Profile Raising of UNESCO in Scotland among target audiences was the focus of the third and final session, led by Dr Miles Oglethorpe, Head of Industrial Heritage and Conservation at Historic Environment Scotland. Dr Oglethorpe was closely involved with the designation of Scotland’s newest World Heritage Site, the Forth Bridge. The discussion looked at both building the profile of UNESCO in Scotland collectively and at an individual site level, exploring opportunities for profile raising among the general public and political stakeholders.

Actions arising from the workshops will be agreed with participants and taken forward by the relevant parties.

UKNC Chair Dr Beth Taylor, who opened and closed the workshop, said:

“The workshops have helped to identify new opportunities for collaboration between the brilliant teams behind the UNESCO sites and projects across Scotland. We look forward to working with Scotland’s UNESCO designations to help build their profile and impact in Scotland and hosting similar networking and information sharing events in other parts of the UK throughout 2017”.

Aberdeen Councillor Marie Boulton, who provided the day’s Welcome Address, said:

“Aberdeen City Council [was] delighted to welcome the UK National Commission for UNESCO to the city. The ancient collection of Aberdeen Burgh Records, held by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, is included on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register. Recognition by UNESCO was a key factor enabling Aberdeen City Archives and the University of Aberdeen to jointly secure £310,000 in funding from the Leverhulme Trust at the end of 2015 for a three-year project to help make these unique records more accessible to the public. Our continued relationship with UNSECO is of great importance to the city”.