Scientific Symposium

Scientific Symposium Themes

The GA2020 will comprise six THEMES:

  • SHARED CULTURES: Communities – collaborative, consultative, contested 
  • SHARED HERITAGE: Multiple attributes, multiple values, multiple actors 
  • SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: Safeguarding and managing places, collections, and practices
  • INDIGENOUS HERITAGE: Sharing, exchange, and control
  • CULTURE-NATURE JOURNEY: Reaching agreement on what’s next? 
  • MARGINALISED HERITAGES: Shared or shunned?

The Themes will offer participants opportunities to be involved in and experience different and intersecting concepts and practices current in the field of heritage conservation. 

Scientific Symposium Theme Descriptions

GA2020 Scientific Symposium Australian Co-Chair: Dr Steve Brown
GA2020 Scientific Symposium International Co-Chair: Dr Ona Vileikis 

SHARED CULTURES: Communities – collaborative, consultative, contested

Australian Co-chair: Dr Cristina Garduño Freeman (
International Co-chair: Dr Marco Antonio Chávez-Aguayo (

The ‘Shared Cultures’ theme intends to examine the ways in which communities and cultural groups collectively create, connect with, value, and care for heritage, be they places (including buildings, towns and landscapes), practices, objects, or collections. For some communities, groups and individuals heritage may been seen to have similar, overlapping, or mutually reinforcing meanings; but for others such meanings, values, and ownership can be contested – to the extent of occasioning destruction and violence.

Some of the questions to be examined may include:
• How do communities come together, identify, and maintain their connections with heritage and each other?
• In what ways are the cultural traditions and perspectives of diverse communities acknowledged, shared, and respected?
• How might conflict arising from multiple and contested valuing of heritage be productive or constructively addressed?
• What are communities’ obligations to share or not share their culture and heritage, and how can such wishes be respected?
• How can the heritage of minority and marginalised cultures be acknowledged and shared?
• What role can digital media play in connecting communities to heritage in the contemporary era of global internet communication?

The ‘shared cultures’ theme seeks to explore these and associated matters with particular reference to the ways in which ICOMOS members and the broader heritage community can play a role (through mediation, facilitation, and ‘soft’ diplomacy, for example) in sustaining peace, security, fairness, and equity in the recognition, protection, and conservation of, and respect for, loved and contested heritage places, practices, and collections.

SHARED HERITAGE: Multiple attributes, multiple values, multiple actors

Australian Co-chair: Agnieshka Kiera (
International Co-chair: Kai Weise (

Heritage that is shared creates opportunities and challenges. In an increasingly globalised world, heritage has become shared through transnational and migrant experiences, through overlapping history, increased global travel and tourism, and through the widespread use of digital media. Where once heritage was considered a product for consumption, it is now more commonly viewed as experiential and pluralistic. Consequent on this claimed change is the increasing individualisation of heritage experience in which multiple narratives of places, practices, and collections are constructed.

The Shared Heritage theme seeks to explore the ways in which heritage has become increasingly ‘shared’ in the 21st century (and in some instances to the detriment of cultures and minority groups). In this sense, the theme will examine the what, who, and why of heritage.

The theme encourages thinking concerning:
• Who shares in the ownership, knowledge, and associated practices of heritage? Who is ‘left out’?
• How do cultural practices (intangible heritage) and places (tangible heritage) relate to one another?
• Why and how do different notions of value and place co-exist?
• Why and how can community and professional viewpoints differ?
• In what ways can heritage shared through historical events grow into hybrid or blended places and/or practices?
• What are the rights and ethical issues relating to shared heritage? What is the role of dialogue in conflict resolution?
• Can the concept of shared heritage effect the way we view climate change and the global nature of this challenge?
• In what ways can the intellectual property associated with particular heritage and communities be protected?
• What are the economic considerations relevant to shared heritage? Who does and does not profit financially or in other ways?

This theme will include initiatives which link ICOMOS National Committees with local representative groups of Sydney’s migrant citizens; and will link the Scientific Symposium and Heritage Exposition events during the GA2020.

SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: Safeguarding and managing places, collections, and practices

Australian Co-chair: Dr MacLaren North (
International Co-chair: Susan Macdonald (

What does it mean to share responsibility for conserving cultural and natural heritage?

The first decades of the 21st century has seen a notable shift in the practice of heritage management at the international, national and local level. This responsibility is increasingly shared across multiple parties in the government, non-profit, academic and private sectors as well as with local communities.
This theme explores the issues around how those responsibilities work, at a theoretical and practical level.

The ‘Shared Responsibility’ theme focuses on the processes of managing heritage (the how), considering questions such as:
• How can governments, heritage managers, stakeholder groups and the various communities work more effectively to manage our heritage?
• Who are the different participants engaged today in the heritage process? How are they involved and why? What are the roles, rights, expectations and responsibilities of each group? Where do they conflict?
• How are responsibility and power shared across responsible parties and communities?
• How has the framework for heritage management responded to accommodate a greater number of participants? What is the consequent effect on practice?
• What are the new and emerging approaches or models that better recognise or accommodate the shifts in who has responsibility for conservation?
• How can heritage processes be developed to protect the shared values of different groups now involved in the conservation process?
• Where does heritage fit within greater societal concerns and responsibilities? How does it retain relevance in the face of other pressures?
• What is the impact on conservation of heritage as a tool in soft diplomacy?
• How do significant places meet the demands of the visitor and tourism economies while ensuring their values are retained?

The theme will include sessions on historic buildings, towns, archaeological, industrial, urban and cultural landscapes, and intangible practices but will not be limited to such heritage items.

INDIGENOUS HERITAGE: Sharing, exchange, and control

Australian Co-chair: Dr Chris Wilson (Ngarrindjeri/Kaurna, Nunga) (
International Co-chair: Dr Diane Menzies (Ngāti Kahungunu, Māori) (

The ‘Indigenous Heritage’ stream will consider the powerful intersections between heritage, rights-based approaches, and sustainability. In the field of ‘heritage studies’, First Nations peoples have frequently raised concerns regarding violations of their rights and a lack of regard for their cultural heritage, values, and livelihoods. Many First Nations scholars have also pointed to the longevity of colonial power structures in the institutions and knowledge systems that continue to define heritage.

The adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) draws attention to the need to ensure that heritage practices are implemented in accord with the Declaration. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, as well as its Advisory Bodies ICOMOS, IUCN, and ICCROM, are working with Indigenous peoples to continue to implement heritage systems that acknowledge and respect the rights of First Nations peoples and their territories. Some of the key topics that may be considered include:
• Key Strategic Priorities for Indigenous Communities: Identifying and ratifying the key heritage issues, debates, and philosophies affecting First Peoples in 2020;
• Identity, Nation, and Sovereignty (Decolonial frameworks, resistance, understanding structural disadvantage and inequalities in the heritage legislative process);
• Economic Barriers & Innovative Solutions: What are some of the key economic barriers and/or structural disadvantages for Indigenous communities and how can Indigenous communities’ benefit (economically, socially, and in terms of wellbeing, for example) from their traditional knowledge and intellectual property?
• Heritage Pedagogy ‘Two Way Learning’: the management of Indigenous places, landscapes, and educational philosophies for good practice;
• Indigenous Heritage Futures (including language, performance, visual arts, traditional skills and the diversity of Indigenous communities);
• Heritage and Memory for Living Traditions: Addressing and networking into private and business ventures (interpretive, experimental, creative, cultural, intellectual tourism heritage and memory).

This stream will include one or more closed sessions for Indigenous participants at the GA2020 – as well as sessions open to all attendees. Work in the field of Indigenous heritage in New South Wales (the Australian State of which Sydney is the capital city) will be highlighted under this theme and will serve to explore the links between local issues and global matters of concern to all Indigenous groups.

The co-chairs gratefully acknowledge the GA2020 Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAP) members for their support and beneficial work in building of the Indigenous Heritage Theme.

CULTURE-NATURE JOURNEY: Reaching agreement on what’s next?

Australian Co-chair: Dr Susan McIntyre Tamwoy (
International Co-chair: Dr Tim Badman (

There is a growing recognition of the need for synergies between the future development of urban and rural settlements, mobilisation of indigenous and local knowledge, recognition and conservation of cultural landscapes and other heritage places, and the successful conservation and restoration of ecosystems. The linkage between biological and cultural diversity is one of the untapped potentials for new dynamics to deliver the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, while responding urgently to the global crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and the loss of cultural diversity through globalisation. It has come to the fore as a powerful dynamic for transformation of the World Heritage Convention, through innovative projects on Connecting Practice and UNESCO World Heritage Leadership. A concern for both nature and culture (and inseparable “naturecultures”) is key to sustaining lasting place-based solutions, for conservation and development, that respond to diverse visions of a good life, and are based on justice and inclusion,

The GA2020 will be the forum at which a co-operative agreement between ICOMOS and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) on the Culture-Nature Journey will be launched. It will build on six-years of collaboration, and Culture-Nature Journeys at the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the ICOMOS General Assembly, and ask the question, “What next?”.

Some of the matters that the Culture-Nature Journey might explore include:
• What are the continuing challenges for the interconnecting of nature and culture in heritage conservation?
• How does better integration of “naturecultures” enable results for communities and their sustainable development?
• What positive, on-ground case examples (including from Australia) illustrate the benefits of integrating culture and nature in the field of heritage conservation? How can this experience be shared widely?
• In what ways can the agreement between ICOMOS and IUCN be promoted and implemented? What are the priorities for the next 3-6 years?
• What are the Culture-Nature links in urban areas, and how can they support the Historic Urban Landscapes approach?
• Are there specific challenges or opportunities for Culture-Nature approaches in colonial, post-colonial, and multicultural societies?

All sessions within the Culture-Nature Journey reflect the partnership between IUCN and ICOMOS, often with contributions from our colleagues at the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM and other partners in the GA2020 Scientific Symposium.


Australian Co-chair: Dr James Lesh (
International Co-chair: Dr Tokie Laotan-Brown (

Throughout the world, the heritage of women, LGBTQI+ groups, and ethnic and religious minorities are being increasingly recognised and incorporated into official heritage regimes. While such heritages may be embraced, they can also be marginalised, ignored, shunned, or erased. This stream aims to examine the heritages of gender, sexually diverse, and marginal communities; examine the reasons why such heritage may be resisted, contested, or repressed in certain times and places; and explore how it might be imagined in the future.

Some of the concerns to be considered include:
• To what forms of heritage can labels such as ‘women’s heritage’ and ‘LGBTQI+ heritage’ be applied? To what extent are such heritages recognised by diverse Indigenous communities?
• What are the links between women’s heritage, LGBTQI+ heritage, ethnic/religious minority heritage, and human and cultural rights? Are they adequately and sufficiently articulated in international doctrinal texts?
• In what ways do women’s heritage, LGBTQI+ heritage, and ethnic/religious minority heritage comprise part of the ‘mainstream’ narrative of particular regions and historic themes (and of the latter, nature and culture integration, for example)? Can and should such heritage be separated from the holistic contexts in which they occur?
• What are the legal and social challenges in recognising, documenting, safeguarding and promoting women’s heritage, LGBTQI+ heritage, and ethnic/religious minority heritage?
• In what ways are women’s heritage, LGBT+ heritage, and ethnic/religious minority heritage impacted upon in times of conflict and persecution?