The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), in collaboration with the Committee on Morocco (ICOMOS Maroc), has organized the 19th International ICOMOS Annual General Assembly (AGA 2019) in Marrakech, from 12th to 18th October, 2019. FUNCI participated in this meeting through the presentation of its project on the restoration of the Agdal gardens of Marrakech.
As published on the website Chantiers du Maroc, the goal of this international meeting is to promote the rich heritage of Morocco, to strengthen the cultural exchanges between its different regions and the rest of countries and cultures, and to promote the cultural, touristic, and economic possibilities offered by the rural world in Morocco.
The importance given to the rural area, yet to exploit in Morocco, is shown in the title of this international symposium, which focuses on “Rural heritage: landscapes and beyond”. Along with the Annual General Assembly, the symposium gathered more than 250 national and international experts from 60 different countries. For a week, these specialists on natural, cultural, tangible and non-tangible heritage exchanged ideas, initiatives, and perspectives throughout a program that comprised the following axes and activities:
- Meetings of the management board and the advisory council of ICOMOS International.
- A scientific symposium and plenary sessions to gather all of ICOMOS’ National, Regional and International Councils.
- Thematic workshops and conferences, spaces to meet and debate, that allowed the lecturers and guest speakers to discuss issues related to the cultural and rural heritage, the environment, society, and rural economy, etc.
- Exhibition spaces on art and books on Moroccan heritage, as well as stands for the associations and institutions working on the preservation of heritage.
- Visits to historical places and monuments in Marrakech and its surroundings, that evidence the rich and diverse history of Morocco.
On this occasion, the issues debated focused on the problematics related with climate change, water, the preservation of cultural and rural landscapes, the emerging professions, indigenous cultures, the terminology used by experts on heritage, and intercultural dialogue.
Med-O-Med and the rehabilitation of the Agdal gardens
Through its Med-O-Med Network, FUNCI has participated in this international symposium presenting the important work of rehabilitation carried out in the Agdal gardens, in the city of Marrakech, as well as presenting the collaboration network that is Med-O-Med.
Through its Med-O-Med Network, FUNCI has participated in this international symposium presenting the important work of rehabilitation carried out in the Agdal gardens, in the city of Marrakech.
FUNCI was present in the event through an educational exhibition on the project of restoration of the Agdal, shown in the hall of the exhibition building. The exhibition explained the purpose, morphology, and characteristics of these agricultural gardens belonging to the Almohad period. It focused on the first stage of intervention in this 400 hectares-space.
Located in the outskirts of Marrakech, the Agdal gardens are a noteworthy evidence of the Medieval Islamic gardens, as well as being the only garden remaining from the Almohad period. Enlisted as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1985, the vast territory occupied by these gardens (more than 400 hectares) comprise important natural, cultural and patrimonial values. Remarkably, it is also characterized by having preserved its original agricultural purpose.
The experts in botany and landscaping, José Tito Rojo and Manuel Casares, both professors at the University of Granada, members of ICOMOS Spain, of the Advisory Committee of Med-O-Med and of this project’s multidisciplinary team, took the chance to explain the project to different members of the ICOMOS’ Executive Board and the Committee on Landscape.
The highlight of the ICOMOS meeting, focusing on the subject “Rural heritage: landscape and beyond”, was the visit organized by FUNCI to the Agdal gardens. This specialized visit was attended by more than 60 international experts on heritage, and showed them one of Marrakech and the Mediterranean’s best kept secrets.
The importance of cooperation for development in the rural area
This international meeting was also an excellent opportunity to promote the Landscape Convention for the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This document, still an early version drafted in collaboration with Mónica Luengo, vice-president of ICOMOS’ Spanish National Committee and member of the Advisory Council of Med-O-Med, aims at reaching a common collaboration frame for the countries of the Mediterranean basin, for the preservation of the region’s natural and cultural values. Aware of the lack of protection faced by the MENA region’s landscapes, and of the vulnerability of a context in transformation, this Convention intends to gather these countries in a cross-border initiative of collaboration and preservation of the environment and the region’s heritage.
This symposium was an exceptional opportunity to promote collaboration and the exchange of initiatives that seek greater transnational actions, and to tackle the challenges faced by heritage today.
Thus, this symposium was an exceptional opportunity to promote collaboration and the exchange of initiatives that seek greater transnational actions, and to tackle the challenges faced by heritage today.