The importance of cultural heritage when faced with the challenge of sustainability, the importance of promoting cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue were the main points discussed in the 11th Annual Advisory Forum on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe, held in Chania, Crete, from October 5-7, 2022.
There were over 400 attendees and 100 speakers, representing 37 member states and 48 certified cultural routes. These included representatives from other international organisations, such as the EU, UNESCO, the Organisation of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), as well as various university and tourism professionals. The forum’s motto this year was “Safeguarding European values, heritage and dialogue”, and it was organised by the Council of Europe, in cooperation with the Greek Government, the region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania and its Chamber of Commerce, as well as the “Historic Cafés Route”. It was sponsored by the presidency of the Hellenic Republic.
A large delegation from Lithuania, Portugal and Spain (Galicia and Cantabria) participated on behalf of the European Federation of Saint James Way, the first of the cultural routes certified in 1987.
Laura González Dopeso, from Galicia, made a presentation on behalf of the Federation in the panel on the values inspired by the Way of Saint James.
Our colleague, Laura González Dopeso, from Galicia, participated in the panel on the values that the Saint James’ Way has inspired throughout its history, which continue today and into the future: friendship, safety, trust, care, freedom, responsibility and respect; as well as the honour and fraternity of common goals, hospitality and charity. Today, these have led to solidarity, tolerance, empathy in understanding different feelings, compassion and peace. All of these are values common to other European cultural routes and are recognised today by the pilgrims who travel Saint James’ Way throughout Europe.
In parallel with this event, a technical meeting took place that continued the dynamic started at the Fontainebleau Training Academy, with the creation of 3 working groups and the participation of representatives from the different cultural itineraries dedicated to the topics of Visibility, Cooperation and Sustainability. The partners were invited to participate actively, with specific proposals for each topic, in preparation for the next Training Academy, to take place in Périgueux-Montignac, France, organised in collaboration with the Prehistoric Rock Art Trails.
During the 3 days of the meeting, the interest and importance of good practice implemented by European cultural routes to promote culture and the social and economic development within the territories they cross became clear: A unique opportunity to highlight the importance of projects, practices and experiences and promote future alliances between the participants.
The next Annual Advisory Forum will take place in September 2023 in Lódz, Poland.