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.