Our Education Manager Peta Knott has just returned from a busy week of international meetings at UNESCO in Paris. But the exciting big ideas and plans for the future were discussed in the bars and brasseries after the official days’ proceedings were over!

The week consisted of a series of meetings surrounding the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and was attended by diplomatic representatives of the 72 countries that have signed the convention, experts on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body, members of the UNITWIN University network, the 19 Accredited NGOs that support this convention and of course the members of the Secretariat who keep the whole show running. NAS has been an Accredited NGO since 2015 and Peta was recently made the Secretary of the group. It was a privilege for NAS to be able to sit in on these high-level international meetings and find out what has been going on around the world in maritime archaeology. 


Image on the left: NAS Education Manager Peta Knott (second from the left) with fellow Accredited NGO colleagues
Image on the right: A view of the UNESCO meeting room.

While the official meetings were mostly reflective about completed work, the planning for future projects happened over drinks and dinner late into the evenings!

Images: Colleagues from around the world plotting and planning exciting projects to support the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.

Here are some highlights from the week:

The many delegates were treated to an educational video created for UNESCO that clearly explained the importance of Underwater Cultural Heritage. It is incredibly effective and well worth sharing!

It was fascinating to see the three projects that were recognised by UNESCO as examples of best practice in the discipline. Check them out here:

Protection and management of underwater cultural heritage on sites in Croatia
Underwater Archaeological Park of Baia in Italy
Hoyo Negro Underwater Archaeological Project, Tulum, Quintana Roo in Mexico

Delegates at the meetings were also enlightened by innovative ways to engage the general public in caring about their coastal heritage – through a chart-topping pop song! Watch this Tanzanian music video and get a very catchy tune in your head. Perhaps we need to think about NAS recording a rock song!

The buzz term for the week was definitely ‘Ocean Literacy’. The simplest definition for this phrase is:
Ocean literacy is an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you—and your influence on the ocean.
So, you can see that as part of the maritime heritage and diving communities, this is a very important concept for NAS to be aware of. But it’s incredibly important for everyone to be ocean literate as we live on a planet that is mostly ocean! Which is why several plans and projects were discussed in the lunchbreaks and dinners on how we can increase Ocean Literacy awareness within the maritime archaeology community. Watch this space in the not too distant future!

The Nautical Archaeology Society has training partners all over the world, so it was no surprise that several of them were at this gathering in Paris. There was limited time during the day to discuss our partnerships, but there was plenty of time in the evening to make plans for future collaborative projects in Finland, research opportunities in Pakistan and extra training in Australia!

Image: NAS Education Manager Peta Knott (top right) with some of our International Training Partners. Toni Massey (far left) from Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, Amer Khan (left) from Maritime Archaeology and Heritage Institute, Pakistan and Vesa Saarinen (right) from Maritime Archaeological Society in Finland.

A definite highlight of the week’s activities was the Accredited NGOs’ rare privilege of presenting our database of international experts and projects to the Members of States Parties who represent the 72 countries that have signed the convention. As diplomats, they are experts in legal matters and have a cultural overview but need assistance when it comes to the finer points of underwater archaeology – and this database will be an excellent resource for them. The database has been created by Brandon Mason from fellow Accredited NGO Maritime Archaeology Trust. It’s still a work in progress but it already showcases the expertise and activities that are out there around the world.

Image: Brandon Mason presenting the Accredited NGOs' database to the UNESCO 2001 Convention Members' of States Parties delegates. Image courtesy of CINDAQ.

Sitting in on the UNITWIN meeting, it was encouraging to see the existing, and in-development, university programmes that are teaching the next generation of underwater cultural heritage managers and archaeologists. We were also happy about their interest in contributing to our expert database!

Of course, the best was saved until last! The Accredited NGOs held our official meeting at the very end of the week. We welcomed two new accredited NGOs: the Maritime Archaeological Society of Finland (also a long time NAS training partner) and The Ocean Foundation. Some of the many ideas, plans and projects that had been brain-stormed at the UNESCO restaurant at lunchtime or our regular evening brasserie Aux Ministeres were officially discussed at the meeting. Look out for our very own logo, website and new email address soon. We’re looking to partner with more nature/conservation NGOs around the world and develop some projects that can be endorsed by the Cultural Heritage Framework Programme for the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. We’ll be finding examples of better practice projects to encourage developing organisations and regions in their support of the 2001 Convention. And of course Ocean Literacy will be key to many of our activities.

Image: 2001 Convention Accredited NGOs in our meeting (left) and celebrating a successful week outside UNESCO (right).

Now that the meetings are over, we won't be meeting in bars and brasseries for some time now. But based on the long list of plans we've made, there's some exciting collaborative work ahead to support the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. We'll keep you posted!