UNESCO - Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding


The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.


According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – or living heritage – is the mainspring of humanity's cultural diversity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity. Intangible heritage is manifested in the following domains, among others:

  • Oral traditions and expressions;
  • Performing arts;
  • Social practices, rituals and festive events;
  • Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
  • Traditional craftsmanship.

Your task for this webquest is to discover projects or activities that may serve as safeguarding examples for elements of our countries' intangible heritage.


Step 1: What does intangible heritage mean to you? 

If you had to describe the intangible heritage in three words, how would you describe it? Go to https://www.menti.com/wj9ngrjnxx or menti.com and use the code: 81815281.

Watch the short video and see what people from different corners of our world think about the intangible heritage:



Step 2: Logo

The emblem of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was designed by Dragutin Dado Kovačević and was chosen after an international competition held in 2008, where 1297 emblem proposals were submitted. Look at the seven proposals chosen as finalists of the competition: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1JhswfEF3uepHzk8wuGC37Ea_-FOiKBbSBZoW35s5Fes/edit?usp=sharing Can you guess what they represent? Then, read the explanation of the Croatian artist who designed the winning logo. Did you guess its meaning?


Step 3: Safeguarding without freezing

Read the following article https://ich.unesco.org/en/safeguarding-00012 . In what way are safeguarding measures aimed at protecting the intangible heritage different from those required for protecting tangible heritage (natural and cultural)?


Step 4: Teaching and learning with living heritage: O Merdeiro in geography, music and art classes (Spain)

Making living heritage part of the educational content and pedagogy contributes to achieving quality education, while raising awareness about the importance of the intangible cultural heritage and its safeguarding. Living heritage helps connect theoretical knowledge with students’ everyday life, while motivating them to be more active and creative in class. Learning with living heritage strengthens the connections between schools, families and communities and encourages dialogue between generations.

Watch the short video to see how living heritage can make learning more interesting, meaningful and motivating for students:


Step 5: For the last activity of this webquest, work with your group and think of three measures aimed at valorising and safeguarding the elements of intangible heritage presented by each partner school:

- group 1: Spring Celebration ‘Hidrellez’ (Turkey): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/spring-celebration-hdrellez-01284

- group 2: Silbo Gomero (Canary Islands): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/whistled-language-of-the-island-of-la-gomera-canary-islands-the-silbo-gomero-00172

- group 3: Martisor (Romania): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/cultural-practices-associated-to-the-1st-of-march-01287

- group 4: Klapa (Croatia): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/klapa-multipart-singing-of-dalmatia-southern-croatia-00746

- group 5: Opera dei Pupi (Italy): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/opera-dei-pupi-sicilian-puppet-theatre-00011

- group 6: Rebetiko (Greece): https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/rebetiko-01291

Present your ideas in front of the class. Are there any similarities?