Cultivating heritage through collaboration and legacy | ICOMOS GA2023

Fast facts

Event: ICOMOS 21st General Assembly and Scientific Symposium 2023 (GA2023)

Dates: 31 August – 9 September 2023

Location:International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney and other Sydney locations

Background:

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) is a global organisation dedicated to conserving cultural heritage. ICOMOS hosts a triennial General Assembly and Scientific Symposium, bringing together experts from around the world. The 21st General Assembly (‘GA2023’) was hosted by Australia in Sydney from 31 August to 9 September 2023.

Challenges:

The path to GA2023 presented major challenges, including a three-year COVID-19 delay. Spanning more than six years, the partnership between Australia ICOMOS and professional congress organiser, Arinex, played a pivotal role in achieving the event’s ambitious objectives. The synergy of Australia ICOMOS’ cultural heritage expertise and Arinex’ event management capabilities was essential for orchestrating a world-class conference. This effort not only established a lasting cultural heritage legacy but also promoted sustainability and engaged a diverse range of stakeholders.

Solution:

Key aspects of this collaboration:

Collaborative Event Management

Arinex and Australia ICOMOS’ collaboration was critical for this extraordinary 10-day program’s success. More than 50 Organising Committee and Executive Committee meetings guided program delivery. Specialised sub-committees addressed Indigenous protocols, young professionals and language diversity. Over 150 events were curated including an 89-session Scientific Symposium, Youth Forum, pre and post tours, side and community events at culturally significant locations. This approach engaged heritage professionals and community members in providing delegates with firsthand Australian heritage insights.

Aboriginal Engagement

Guided by an Indigenous Advisory Panel, an Aboriginal Procurement Policy engaged Aboriginal businesses, and local Aboriginal leaders conducted Welcomes to Country and Smoking Ceremonies. Site tours and an Indigenous heritage program focused on contemporary Indigenous heritage issues, leading to important resolutions that will shape the involvement of Indigenous people in World Heritage.

Sustainability

GA2023 achieved EarthCheck-certified carbon neutrality through collaborative efforts and thoughtful event design. ICC Sydney, a carbon neutral venue and Arinex’ own carbon neutral certification contributed. Sustainable suppliers provided recycled resources, an event app reduced printed material and delegates accessed flight offset opportunities. A tree planting program offset remaining emissions.

Relationships

Together, Australia ICOMOS and Arinex secured funding and ‘in kind’ support from the Australian and NSW Governments, including venues and special experiences for GA2023 delegates. The Strategic Partner and Corporate Patron program secured over 70 supporters, exceeding commercial sponsorship targets. Arinex and the GA committees mobilised professional colleagues worldwide as ‘GA2023 Ambassadors’.

Legacy and Awareness

GA2023 will have a far-reaching impact, raising the profile of cultural heritage, contributing to a new NSW heritage strategy and prompting the Australian Government to re-evaluate Indigenous values of World Heritage properties. Events including a Heritage Lecture, Exposition and Trades Fair, fostered community engagement. A media campaign drew national attention to GA2023 and cultural heritage issues.

Outcomes:

Australia ICOMOS and Arinex achieved remarkable outcomes for GA2023, reflected in:

quote

“Staging the global General Assembly of ICOMOS in Australia was a remarkable achievement that required a unique and co-ordinated contribution from Government, industry, and community organisations. Successfully delivering more than 150 diverse events across an exhilarating 10 days relied on the synergistic collaboration and commitment to an agreed vision by Australia ICOMOS and Arinex.”

Prof Richard Mackay, AM
GA2023 Convenor