Featured Image - Her Royal Highness, Princess Dana Firas, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Over ten extraordinary days, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) General Assembly and Scientific Symposium 2023 (GA2023) brought together cultural heritage enthusiasts and experts from around the world to Sydney.
Hosted in Australia for the first time from 31 August to 9 September 2023, this historic event was the culmination of seven years of planning and perseverance. Despite a COVID-19 postponement, it successfully showcased the nation’s rich heritage while addressing critical global issues.
With 1,853 participants representing 100 countries, GA2023 was a truly international affair. Attendees had access to a diverse program of 150+ events, including site visits, workshops, lectures and a five-day Scientific Symposium.
Under the theme Heritage Changes: Resilience – Responsibility – Rights – Relationships, the Symposium explored the evolving role of heritage in a changing world. Distinguished keynote speakers included June Oscar, AO, Australian Indigenous Human Rights Commissioner, and Her Royal Highness, Princess Dana Firas, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
A significant aspect of GA2023 was the Indigenous Heritage Program through which topics such as First Nations heritage protections were discussed. To encourage Aboriginal engagement across the supply chain, an Aboriginal Procurement Policy was adopted.
To encourage participation from students and early career professionals, a Youth Forum was held on Cockatoo Island/Wareamah, home of a UNESCO World Heritage listed Convict Site, offering participants a unique opportunity to engage in heritage discussions.
Day trips took delegates on an exploration of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains, which is renowned for its stunning landscapes and home to culturally significant sites deeply rooted in Indigenous heritage. In addition, over 45 other side events and tours were hosted at historically significant venues and locations, leaving attendees with a true appreciation of Australia’s ancient places and culture.
GA2023 also involved the local and wider Australian community. A free Heritage Exposition and Trades Fair showcased Australia’s World Heritage properties and demonstrations of traditional trade skills, while a public Heritage Lecture at the Sydney Town Hall discussed the preservation of ancient Aboriginal knowledge, culture and sites.
In recognition of GA2023, ICOMOS partnered with the Royal Australian Mint to launch a new $5 uncirculated coin featuring all 20 Australian World Heritage Properties. The coin, which is Australian legal tender, was sold out soon after the event.
In alignment with Arinex’ own commitment to responsible event management, GA2023 achieved carbon-neutral certification through a partnership with EarthCheck, which monitored, measured and managed the event’s carbon footprint. Alongside thoughtful event design and collaborations with sustainable suppliers, the event offset its remaining emissions through a partnership with Reforest, resulting in the planting of 1,200 trees.
Arinex CEO Nicole Walker said after a seven-year journey, ICOMOS GA2023 has proven to be an outstanding achievement for all involved.
“GA2023 brought together a worldwide community of cultural heritage enthusiasts and experts, uniting in celebration of our rich, diverse past and a collective commitment to safeguarding it for generations to come,” she said.
“Arinex takes immense pride in being a part of this remarkable gathering.”
Photos credit- Oneill Photographics