21 November 2017- This morning, UNESCO in cooperation with the International Centre on Qanats and Historic Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) kicked off an international conference on Intangible Cultural Heritage around Water in Yazd.
The conference focuses on topics related to both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, science and indigenous knowledge on water management, as well as ancient water-related traditions and ceremonies that are transmitted from one generation to the next.
The message from Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director of the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, highlighted that traditional practices concerning water management have contributed to equitable access to clean water and sustainable water use, notably in agriculture and other livelihoods. Throughout history, local communities have proven their capacities to shape sustainable water management practices, guided by deeply held beliefs and traditions.
“Iran is known for its century-old system of qanats, which provided a sustainable use of water to communities living in the middle of the dessert. The intangible cultural heritage surrounding the qanats demonstrate the deep respect of local communities for water, which is something that we can still draw important lessons from”, said Ms. Kuisch Laroche.
Mr. Jamalinejad, Mayor of Yazd City, appreciated the efforts made by UNESCO and ICQHS and mentioned that the municipality is ready to cooperate in more scientific activities. He thanked UNESCO and the Ministry of Energy for the establishment of ICQHS in Yazd.
“The inscription of Yazd and the Persian qanats on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List is based on the wise interaction of people with their environment.” said Mr. Jamalinejad during his remarks.
Dr. Mohammad Hasan Talebian, Deputy for Cultural Heritage of the Iranian Cultural Heritage Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) made a comprehensive presentation on the interactions of tangible and intangible cultural heritage around qanats and about the historic city center of Yazd. He mentioned that the traditional management of water distribution and other intangible values has been one of the criteria for Outstanding Universal Value that was considered for the inscription of the historic city of Yazd on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The conference continued with panel discussions and presentations from Spain, Italy and the Netherlands on a wide variety of topics, including religious and moral approaches towards water, traditional water management systems, etc.
For more information about ICQHS and to learn more about the Persian qanats, please see: http://icqhs.org/