Press Release no. 36/07: Andalusia to Cooperate on Heritage and Development of Varanasi
11 October 2007 - His Excellency Mr. Gaspar Zarrías, Vice-President of the regional government of Andalusia in southern Spain, will discuss a new initiative for cooperation in the area of heritage based development, during the official visit of a delegation of the government of Andalusia to India on October 11 and 12 2007, coinciding with Spain’s National Day on October 12.
Mr. Zarrías will meet with representatives of the New Delhi office of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the Varanasi Chapter of INTACH, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. They will discuss Andalusian government funding for culture and development in Varanasi, with the technical support of UNESCO through the Network of Indian Cities of Living Heritage. The Network, established by UNESCO New Delhi in 2006 with the support from the Central Ministry of Urban Development and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, aims to promote sustainable, heritage based development of India’s historic cities.
“The Network of Indian Cities enables its members to share ideas and expertise so that India’s most historic regions and cities can develop in ways that value their heritage and use it as an engine for socio-economic growth,” said Minja Yang, Director of the UNESCO New Delhi office. “The Network has several international partners, and we are delighted to now include the participation of Andalusia, a region of Spain that is world famous for its Islamic heritage in cities like Seville and Granada.” The Ambassador of Spain, Mr. Ion de la Riva has welcomed the initiative and stressed that “This project in Varanasi will enhance the cooperation and partnership between the two countries that have a long history”.
The UNESCO New Delhi office promotes international cooperation to propagate best practices in local government and decentralisation, particularly in relation to the goals of urban development set out by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. “From a cultural point of view, Varanasi is one of India’s most important cities,” said Ms. Yang. “It expresses much about the spirituality of the country, and it does so through its geography and architecture. Developing the city in such a way as to preserve its living cultural heritage is tremendously important, and we welcome the Andalusian government’s technical cooperation.” A Memorandum of Understanding to underpin the cooperation will be signed soon between Andalusia and the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris.