The Europa Nostra Heritage Hub for Central and Eastern Europe to be based in Kraków

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A branch of the Europa Nostra network – the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub – will be established in Kraków, as the first outpost of this pan-European federation, the headquarters of which are based in The Hague while its European Liaison Office is based in Brussels. On 9 May – Europe Day, the letter of intent establishing the Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków was signed by the Mayor of Kraków, Jacek Majchrowski, and prof. Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra. The role of the future Heritage Hub is to develop and strengthen the activities of the federation in this part of the continent, to involve civil society organisations in the protection of Europe’s heritage, as well as to strengthen the role of Kraków as a leading European centre creating and implementing best practices in the area of heritage preservation and in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention.

 

The first Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Europe

Kraków is the first European city put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is a huge commitment to protect one’s own cultural and natural heritage, but also to engage in the protection of the heritage of all kinds, especially nowadays, marked by armed conflicts, climate change and economic crisis,” said Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków. “On 9 May 1950, the first step was taken in the creation of what we know today as the European Union. It is hard to find a better time than Europe Day to communicate the establishment of the Europa Nostra Hub in Kraków and to emphasise how fundamental the voice of civil society is in caring for our common European heritage,” he added.

The establishment of the Hub was announced to the public during a special meeting between Europa Nostra, represented by prof. Hermann Parzinger, Executive President, and Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General, and the City of Kraków, represented by Mayor Jacek Majchrowski. This is the first step of a priority of Europa Nostra’s Strategic Plan: Horizon 2025, which defines the key role of cities and sets the direction for regional leaders in Europe’s heritage hubs as a catalyst for positive change based on sustainable development, social cohesion and climate action. In line with this ambition, Europa Nostra has also announced the creation of a second Heritage Hub covering the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean region to be launched in Athens.

Europa Nostra appreciates the European vision and the decision of President Jacek Majchrowski to establish in Kraków the first Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Europe. We are sure this Hub will lead to greater synergies between public and non-governmental actors in Poland and in the wider region of Central and Eastern Europe for the benefit of our shared cultural heritage. It is also very symbolic that the launch of this Hub takes place in the year when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention,” stated prof. Hermann Parzinger, Executive President of Europa Nostra.

The establishment of the Hub would have not been possible without the involvement of the International Cultural Centre in Kraków (ICC), an Associate Organisation of Europa Nostra. The founder and longtime director of the ICC, prof. Jacek Purchla, is Vice-president of Europa Nostra. For over 30 years of cooperation between the ICC and Europa Nostra, various projects have been implemented, including the ground-breaking research “Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe” (2015). The advocacy for a stronger role of civil society in the safeguard of World and Europe’s heritage was particularly vocal during the 40th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Kraków in 2017, chaired by prof. Purchla, or during the celebration of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018. On 8-10 May, the meetings of the Europa Nostra Council and of the European Heritage Awards Jury are taking place at the ICC headquarters.

Europa Nostra organised its first big annual meeting in Kraków in 1995. Since then, we have admired the wide range of activities carried out by the ICC and have benefited enormously from many of its achievements“, said Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra.

Membership in Europa Nostra and undertaking joint projects are strategically important parts of the ICC’s activities. Thanks to this partnership, the voice of Poland and, more broadly, Central Europe may resonate in European discussions on the role and importance of cultural heritage, which is absolutely crucial in the context of Russia’s aggression against independent Ukraine,” emphasised Agata Wąsowska-Pawlik, Director of the ICC.

Kraków is the first European historical city that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978. President Jacek Majchrowski currently holds the presidency of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. The city is a member of over a dozen prestigious organisations dealing with the care and management of heritage, including the League of Historic Cities, the ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites and the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The tasks of Europa Nostra Heritage Hub in Kraków will include strengthening the voice of local stakeholders in the wider European heritage ecosystem, attracting local, national and European partners, strengthening the work of Europa Nostra in Central and Eastern Europe, and ensuring maximum visibility of Kraków as a leading heritage city. The city of Kraków committed to co-finance the work of the Hub for a period of 3 years and will announce a public tender to select a non-governmental organisation to be entrusted with the task of managing and development of the Hub, in close collaboration with the Europa Nostra headquarters in The Hague and its European office in Brussels.

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