Scientific Symposium Themes and Programs

Scientific Symposium Themes and Programs

The content of the GA2023 Scientific Symposium comprises an overarching GA2023 theme, four Scientific Symposium Themes, and five Scientific Symposium Programs.

GA2023 Overarching Theme

HERITAGE CHANGES: The GA2023 theme seeks to examine the tumultuous changes taking place in the first years of the 2020s. Climate emergencies, conflict, COVID-19, lockdowns, closed borders, virtual meetings, and the Black Lives Matter movement have profoundly altered the ways in which the world is experienced. What has been the role of heritage in these events? What is changing in the field of heritage and what needs to change? What does heritage change – for example, in civil society, the environment, the economy, and in politics? And, in what ways is heritage a force for change and integral to creating a sustainable future?

Themes and Programs

Scientific Symposium Themes


Vulnerability – Adaptability – Flexibility. The concept of resilience is derived from ecology, nature conservation, and disaster risk reduction. In the field of heritage, resilience is linked to objectives of sustainable development, including in the areas of changing climate, heritage impacts, and disaster risks. For example, resilience can focus on attachments to place as a way of driving strategies for persistence, adaptation, and transformation. What are the links between resilience and change management? In what ways is heritage a force for positive change?


Leadership – Sharing – Accountability. Responsibility for heritage places, practices, collections, and systems can be shared across multiple actors, including local communities, governments, private and non-profit sectors. What role(s) does each actor play in responsible heritage management, climate change adaptation, and social justice? In what ways can sectorial collaboration support heritage as a force for change?


Politics – Ethics – Justice. Rights to heritage are deeply enmeshed in politics, ethics, and social (or cultural) justice. Recognition of heritage values as diverse, contested, and powerful can initiate and lead wider discussion about human and planetary rights. Are stand-alone codes of ethics for heritage practice effective? That is, can ethical action on rights be separated from the complex realities of practice? If ethics are to be seen as integral to all heritage practices, in what ways can heritage and heritage ethics be a positive force for change?


Connection – Kinship – Respect. The focus of the Relationships theme is the connections between non-secular and sacred heritages with their associated diverse communities. To what extent are non-secular and faith-based, including Indigenous, heritage places interconnected and to what extent separate? In what ways can non-secular and faith-based communities associated with the same heritage place work together to be a force for change?

Scientific Symposium Programs

Indigenous Heritage

This Program will build on and extend the work undertaken on Indigenous Heritage in advance of GA2020. The Program connects with the work of the ICOMOS Working Group on Indigenous Heritage and to the ICOMOS 2021 Scientific Symposium theme – Living Heritage and Climate Change.

Culture-Nature Journey

The integration of natural and cultural heritage has been a focus of the work of the World Heritage Advisory Bodies for a decade. The IUCN-ICOMOS Culture-Nature Journey continues the collaborative work of ICOMOS and IUCN, as well as associated partner organisations, including ICCROM.

Heritage for Climate

This Program focuses on the intersection of climate change and cultural heritage practice and management, connecting with the work of the ICOMOS Climate Change and Heritage Working Group.

Heritage as Sustainability

This Program focuses on the ways that heritage is sustainable and how heritage contributes to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, connecting with the work of the ICOMOS Sustainable Development Goals Working Group.

Digital Heritage

The digital realm is now key to global information sharing and social connectivity. It is also giving rise to new forms of heritage. What new virtual ways of creating, documenting, presenting, and experiencing heritage are being applied, and what are the benefits, issues, and challenges?


Theme. A key or primary topic. GA2023 is comprised of four Themes.

Session. A block of time (generally one to two hours) dedicated to a sub-topic within a Theme. At times the themes will include parallel sessions.

Format. The arrangement or setup of a session. Formats include paper presentations, short talks, panel discussions, round table discussions (or ‘dialogues’), short field visits (‘walk and talk’), debates, performance, film, posters, or any other format that delegates would like to suggest.

Heritage. A collective term for cultural heritage places (including historic buildings, towns and landscapes), practices, objects and collections.

Program. A key topic aligned to International ICOMOS Working Groups. GA2023 comprises five programs.

Note. It is intended that this Themes and Programs document will be translated into multiple languages and widely shared on social media.