The European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) is proud to share the news of its freshly launched “Youth for the future of cultural heritage in Europe” position paper. This collective work underlines the vital role of young people in safeguarding and promoting cultural heritage, especially in the face of climate change impacts. The work is fully accessible online at this link. Developed as a follow up to the much awaited 2022 European Year of Youth, this comprehensive document encapsulates the priorities and aspirations of the younger generation for the cultural heritage sector.

The document is the result of the collective work of a diverse group of over 40 young professionals and cultural heritage enthusiasts (both contributors and reviewers), supported by 10 institutional partners among which the Future for Religious Heritage – the European network for historic places of worship, led by the European Students’ Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH) and Europa Nostra. The position paper highlights the need for inclusivity, collaboration, intergenerational exchange, strengthening the sector, and embracing new technologies by putting forward five principles:

  1. Inclusion – Heritage as a confluence;
  2. Collaboration – Heritage as a collective network;
  3. Intergenerational exchange and dialogue – Heritage as a bridge;
  4. Strengthen the sector – Heritage as a future profession;
  5. New technologies – Heritage as an expanding field.

Besides providing an overview of the current status, it also aims to serve as a call to action for individuals, organisations, and policymakers to recognise and support the active engagement of youth in cultural heritage preservation across Europe and beyond. The entire initiative benefited from the support of the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.

It all originated in April 2022, when Europa Nostra and its partner organisations (such as ESACH) working with youth in cultural heritage launched a wide consultation on “Youth for the Future of Cultural Heritage in Europe” as a contribution to the European Year of Youth 2022. The consultation provided a much needed window to the youth standing in the sector and directly inspired the team to write the position paper and the results of the survey analysis are open to all in The ESACH Quarterly N°3.

Consequently, the position paper draws attention to the pressing challenges posed by climate change and its profound impact on cultural heritage sites, artifacts, and traditions. It highlights the urgency of taking immediate action to protect and conserve these invaluable treasures for future generations. By amplifying the voices of young people, the position paper advocates for a sustainable and inclusive approach to cultural heritage management. Furthermore, the paper reflects on the ever more present question of digitalisation while at the same time advocating for the intergenerational exchanges as one of the ways to make the sector more resilient.

One of the key components of the position paper is the pledge, committing to the principles outlined within the document. By taking this pledge, both individuals and organisations demonstrate their commitment to working collaboratively towards a future that respects and harnesses the potential of cultural heritage to the fullest.

To further disseminate the message and engage stakeholders, a comprehensive awareness campaign is being launched alongside the position paper. Spin-off events and initiatives, that started already during Europa Nostra’s anniversary European Cultural Heritage Summit, will be organised to foster dialogue and encourage active participation from youth, cultural heritage organisations, and policy influencers.

We believe the release of the position paper marks a pivotal moment in acknowledging the power of youth in shaping the future of cultural heritage in Europe. By working together and embracing the recommendations outlined within the paper, a sustainable and inclusive path can be forged, ensuring the protection and celebration of cultural heritage for generations to come.

We are using this opportunity to ask you to please spread the word, sign the pledge and, should you wish to collaborate with us on implementation of these principles, contact us on the following email address:

Cover photo: European Heritage Masterclass “Climate Heritage Digital Advocacy”, 2022 © Josef Rabara / Europa Nostra