Kingston, 18 December 2020 – Declaring that the meeting had “done what no other session of the Intergovernmental Committee has accomplished before,” the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, brought an end to the deliberations of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee.
Minister Grange had the responsibility of chairing the week-long meeting, which is held annually.
For the first time, the meeting was held completely online due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic.
Minister Grange said it was a highly productive meeting which met all its targets and ended with one day to spare.
Addressing the closing session, Minister Grange said:
“You have managed to debate and decide on all of the items in our agenda in a fully online modality — with only half of our normal daily working hours.
Thanks to your enthusiasm, cooperation and your willingness to work together in the spirit of consensus, we have accomplished a tremendous number of tasks. Your flexibility to work in a new way and your commitment to make this a successful session despite many challenges have made my work as Chairperson thoroughly rewarding”
More than 830 delegates from 141 countries registered to participate in the meeting. Minister Grange told the global press conference that “at moments more than 1,100 people were simultaneously connected [online] to follow our debates.”
Minister Grange said the meeting “accomplished a great deal.”
Minister Grange said:
“We examined 44 files: 3 elements were added to the Urgent Safeguarding List; 29 were added to the Representative List; and 3 programmes to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.
For the first time, Finland, Malta, Paraguay and Singapore had inscriptions on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, which now feature elements from a total of 131 States.
This year also saw the highest number of multi-country nominations, with 14 inscriptions testifying to the ability of intangible cultural heritage to bring people together and promote international cooperation.
These are great achievements for all of humanity."
Minister Grange said she was disappointed that the delegates could not come to Kingston as planned, but expressed sincere gratitude to the reaction of the meeting towards the special effort to include elements of Jamaica’s culture, particularly Reggae Music, into the sessions.
The opening session on Monday featured ‘Reggae Greetings from Jamaica’ - a special performance by Jamaican music stars including Peetah Morgan of Morgan Heritage, Marcia Griffiths, and Mykal Rose of Black Uhuru, appearing alongside the Inner Circle Band.
Today’s closing session featured Julian Marley.
Throughout the week, there were Reggae Chill Moments featuring Reggae performances from artistes across the globe who are part of the Playing For Change Movement.
The Culture Minister said she continues to be in awe at the global appreciation of Jamaica’s music.
“As I chaired this meeting, I could not help but reflect on my own pride, the pride of my country, and the pride of the people of the world when Reggae Music was added in 2018 to the Representative List.
I still remember the personal testimonies from delegates from across the world, about what Reggae music means to them and how it acts as the healing balm or an elixir at times of trouble and distress.”
Minister Grange said she continues to be witness to the power of culture and heritage in building solid bridges between the peoples of the world, “especially at this time when all of us face a great and common challenge, I reflect on the words of the Jamaica National Pledge, which calls us to do our part towards advancing the welfare of the whole human race. I believe that the work of UNESCO truly epitomises that ideal.”