WINDHOEK, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Namibia on Wednesday launched the "World Heritage Futures Lab: Southern and Eastern Africa edition," a project which will facilitate the development and dissemination of dynamic digital content and products aimed at deepening public knowledge and appreciation of the value of World Heritage Sites in Africa.
Speaking at the launch in the capital Windhoek, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Representative to Namibia, Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, said the lab is the first of its kind to develop and disseminate new narratives about World Heritage in southern and eastern Africa through the creation of innovative and engaging digital products.
This initiative has been conceived as part of "The Next 50", a year-long interdisciplinary reflection on the future of World Heritage, aiming to address one of the theme's main priorities which is digital transformation, he said, adding that it provides an opportunity to capacitate African creative technologists to harness digital technologies to open spaces for original voices and underrepresented narratives.
"Digital technologies and artificial intelligence are changing the way we interact with and experience the world. In the case of shared heritage, it is becoming easier to access information about the African World Heritage sites and easily monitor the conservation of, or transmit the practices and knowledge linked to the preservation of these unique sites. It is evident that the digital revolution is re-defining the way we preserve, protect and promote our World Heritage for future generations," he added.
According to Moussa-Elkadhum, the project will enhance the capacities of African creative technologists and local communities living in or around selected southern and eastern African World Heritage sites to interpret World Heritage values and contribute to the development of new attractive and engaging narratives about World Heritage sites in the two regions as well as enhance African creative technologists' capacities on experiential and immersive digital technologies.
"The impacts of climate change, urbanization, uncontrolled development, and unsustainable tourism practices, pose threats to world heritage sites. We must preserve and protect this heritage for the next generation. However, to be successful we need to raise awareness and encourage appreciation of the heritage and cultural values of these sites by communities and visitors," he said.
The three-day event, from Jan. 25 to 27, consists of 20 digital technologists and community representatives from eastern and southern Africa who are participating in the lab that is being facilitated by regional and international experts in the fields of conservation, preservation, and restoration of natural and cultural sites, creative technology-including but not limited to augmented virtual reality production, storytelling, and narrative crafting, as well as pitching the show of innovative and engaging digital content and products.
The digital technologists will also be part of a three-day workshop aimed at strengthening the capacities of creative technologists and local community members in interpreting World Heritage values and developing experimental and experiential digital content and products. ■