Meld. St. 16 (2019–2020)

New goals for Norway’s cultural environment policy— Meld. St. 16 (2019–2020) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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Part 3
Knowledge and international cooperation

11 Knowledge

Climate and environmental management must be based on knowledge. The cultural environment is a primary source of knowledge about the past. Tangible cultural heritage items are often the only source of knowledge about people’s lives and living conditions in prehistoric times and the Middle Ages.

Research and advancement of the discipline are essential for the development of the cultural environment sector, to relate it to important societal changes, and thus be able to contribute to sustainable development. Cultural environment research is an integral part of climate and environmental research as a whole and is developing in tandem with it.

11.1 Research and development work

Norwegian research policy is organised in accordance with the sector principle. This means that the Ministry of Education and Research has an overarching responsibility for coordination, while the individual sector ministry is responsible for research and development of knowledge within its areas of responsibility. The Ministry of Climate and Environment thus has a duty to ensure that there is a comprehensive knowledge base in the area of climate issues and the environment. This means, among other things, that it must have an informed overview of the status of knowledge, identify the main priority knowledge gaps, and obtain the necessary knowledge about its own area of responsibility.

Most research and development work in the cultural environment sector is funded thorough the Research Council of Norway, by the Ministry of Climate and Environment’s funding of the institute sector, and through direct funding of studies, environmental monitoring, mapping and other forms of knowledge production.

The white paper Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019)) provides important overarching guidelines. The Ministry of Climate and Environment’s knowledge strategy 2017–2020 highlights the Ministry of Climate and Environment’s sectoral and cross-sectoral responsibilities in this research area. The document Priority research needs of the Ministry of Climate and Environment (2016–2021) provides guidelines and specifications for knowledge needs in the environmental sector.

An important part of the Ministry of Climate and Environment’s sectoral responsibility for knowledge about climate issues and the environment is to provide the environmental institutes with framework conditions that, as far as possible, ensure that the institutes collectively deliver research of high quality and relevance. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) is one of the environmental institutes that receives basic funding directly from the Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Good collaboration and exchange of experience and knowledge between the cultural environment authorities, knowledge institutions and the relevant research and analysis environments will be essential in this context.

For example, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage and the archaeological museums have established so-called “academic programmes” related to excavations of archaeological sites with a view to ensuring they practise a targeted, knowledge-driven management policy. An “academic programme” comprises a comprehensive review of the knowledge status, the current preservation situation, and the challenges in relation to a particular type of cultural heritage or specific geographical area. Introduction of a similar system of data collection and collation ought to be considered for several different heritage categories or priority areas. They help identify knowledge gaps and provide a basis for setting priorities, designing strategies and implementing measures, and they can serve as a common knowledge base for researchers and the management authorities alike.

Textbox 11.1 HEI: Heritage Experience Initiative

HEI: The Heritage Experience Initiative is a research and education project at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo (UiO), developed in collaboration with the Museum of Cultural History. Started in 2019, the project is an interdisciplinary initiative to strengthen ties between the University and the cultural heritage sector. HEI aims to develop critical heritage research and experiment with new forms of teaching by bringing together students, researchers and other professionals from multiple institutions and disciplines. The objective is to foster deeper insight into what cultural heritage is and the role cultural heritage plays in society today.

HEI has established six different working groups that each from their own perspective seek to understand and contribute to solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges: migration, integration, conflict and cultural destruction, climate change and adaptation to accelerating technological changes.

Research and the UN Sustainable Development Goals

The work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals takes place in a variety of different arenas. Research and higher education play a key role in the development of a sustainable society. According to the United Nations, it is necessary to invest in new knowledge and technology in order to achieve the goals, and the challenges must be addressed across traditional borders between nations, institutions, disciplines, topics and sectors. Attainment of all the goals will require strong new partnerships and cooperation between public authorities, industry and civil society. Among other things, the UN Sustainable Development Goals highlight the need to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.

The white paper Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019)) states that natural assets and cultural monuments, sites and environments play a central role in sustainable urban development, and that research on a variety of topics can contribute to meeting Sustainable Development Goal no. 11 to make cities and settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The white paper The humanities in Norway (Meld. St. 25 (2016–2017)) identifies “climate change, the environment and sustainability” as one of three categories of societal challenges where the humanities can offer relevant solutions, historical perspectives and better understanding of the world, people and specific situations.

The Research Council of Norway’s Strategy for Sustainability (2017–2020) emphasises that sustainable social development requires good collaboration between the research community, trade and industry, and the public administration in order for new knowledge and new sustainable solutions to have a prompt effect in society. Particular importance is attached to cultural heritage in the following three priority knowledge areas:

  • Reduced climate change and effective adaptation measures

  • Abundant biodiversity, preservation of ecosystem services, and lower environmental impacts

  • Sustainable cities, regions and transport systems

In terms of climate change and effective adaptation measures, there is a particular need for knowledge about the impacts that climate change, and measures to mitigate it, will have for cultural historical assets. The same applies to knowledge and methods to promote better management of cultural environments in a changing climate (cf. section 9.2.2).

11.2 International research cooperation

International research cooperation is necessary in the work to resolve several societal challenges. A key objective in the white paper Long-term plan for research and higher education 2019–2028 (Meld. St. 4 (2018–2019)) is to increase Norwegian participation in EU framework programmes for research and innovation.

Since 2010, a member-State-driven initiative bringing together national research funding organisations, ministries, and research councils from Europe, Joint Programming Initiatives (JPI), has helped coordinate publicly funded research in Europe in ten areas. JPI Cultural Heritage and Global Change, a new challenge for Europe (JPI CH) coordinates knowledge building related to cultural heritage for sustainable use and management to help respond to major societal challenges. The objectives include contributing to greater collaboration to ensure stronger research environments, strengthening the quality and interdisciplinarity of research, and encouraging better collaboration between research, the public authorities and the private sector, as well as joint development and coordination of research policy in the cultural heritage sector in Europe.

Participation will also help strengthen the Norwegian research system and mobilise new research environments and user groups in the cultural environment sphere.

The EU’s ninth framework programme – Horizon Europe – is under development in the period 2019–2020 and is due to start from January 2021. Cultural heritage belongs under Pillar 2 – Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness, and Cluster 2 – Culture, Creativity and Inclusive Society. Among other things, the framework programme aims at focusing research and innovation on global challenges related to climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

11.3 Statistics and monitoring

Good knowledge about the state of the environment changes over time, and the cause(s) of the changes is an absolute prerequisite for fact-based policy making and management. Environmental monitoring involves the systematic collection of data using verifiable methods, based on hypotheses about causes and effects. Environmental monitoring delivers results through systematic, long-term data collection and in this way contributes to knowledge development.

Monitoring of the state of the environment provides a solid base of knowledge about developments, which public authorities can use to implement measures to prevent the loss and destruction of cultural environments. It also provides a foundation for formulating policy goals and for revising existing goals.

There are currently several environmental monitoring programmes in the cultural environment sector. Data from these programmes will be important for the work towards the new national goals. As part of the follow-up of this white paper, the government will review the existing monitoring programmes and assess which ones are to be continued and the need for any new programmes.

Textbox 11.2 Environmental monitoring in the cultural environment sector

Environmental monitoring provides knowledge about the state of the environment, which is an important basis for developing, evaluating and following up national goals, measures and instruments related to environmental policy. Monitoring is repeated regularly over extended periods of time. There are currently four environmental monitoring programmes in the cultural environment sector:

1. Status and monitoring of the condition of automatically protected archaeological monuments and sites in selected municipalities

The purpose of this programme is to identify causes of loss and damage, potential threats, and the effectiveness of various forms of protection in selected municipalities. Ten municipalities are currently included in the programme (Bømlo, Fræna, Kautokeino, Modum, Tromsø, Trondheim, Sandnes, Skjåk, Sortland and Sarpsborg).

2. The status of cultural monuments and sites worthy of preservation in selected municipalities

The purpose of this programme is to obtain an overview of developments in terms of losses, changes and the physical condition of cultural monuments and sites worthy of preservation in selected municipalities. From 2020, 18 municipalities are included in the programme (Bø, Eidskog, Flora, Fræna, Gjerstad, Holmestrand, Kautokeino, Melhus, Nittedal, Nord-Aurdal, Saltdal, Samnanger, Sandnes, Sarpsborg, Skjåk, Snåsa, Tromsø and Vega).

3. Environmental monitoring of the impacts of climate change on protected buildings

The purpose of this programme, which started in 2017, is to provide an overview of how climate change is affecting 45 buildings of high cultural-historical value. It encompasses 35 medieval buildings from all over Norway and ten buildings in the World Heritage properties of Røros Mining Town and the Circumference and Bryggen in Bergen.

4. The status and monitoring of the condition of medieval cultural layers in selected medieval towns

The purpose of this programme, which started in 2018, is to map the preservation conditions and status of selected cultural layers from the Middle Ages in Bergen, Tønsberg and Trondheim.

Source Source: The Directorate for Cultural Heritage

11.4 Medieval archaeology

The white paper on the university museums in 2008 (Meld. St. 15 (2007–2008)) focused extensively on the university museums’ role as a supplier of knowledge for the management of the cultural environment. Among other things, it was stressed that research is a cornerstone activity of the university museums and that neither development of collections nor management of collections can be regarded separately from research activities. The close ties between research, management, dissemination and education at the university museums promote the active use of the material gathered in connection with development-led archaeological investigations as a catalyst for knowledge growth and research.

In connection with one of the measures presented in the white paper on the management of cultural heritage in 2013 (Meld. St. 35 (2012–2013)), it was stated that the Ministry of Climate and Environment, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Culture, was going to look into amending the responsibility regulations pursuant to the Cultural Heritage Act with a view to ensuring a more uniform organisation of the management of archaeological monuments and sites. The main purpose of this is to strengthen the knowledge perspective in the management of automatically protected cultural monuments and sites and ship finds.

In partnership with representatives from the archaeological museums, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU), the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, the county authorities and the Sami Parliament, the three ministries have carried out a process in which different solutions have been discussed. For various reasons, this work was not completed in line with the intentions. Among other things, a planned independent review of all aspects of the matter, including the financial implications of the various alternative solutions was never carried out.

The government will continue the work to strengthen the production of knowledge within medieval archaeology, together with the management of automatically protected archaeological monuments and sites and ship finds. This work will build on the previous process. In order to ensure an adequate decision-making basis, the government will reassess the need for an independent review.

As regards the maritime museums in Bergen, Oslo and Stavanger, the government will discuss the role and future organisation of these museums in connection with the presentation of a new white paper on museums in 2021.

11.5 Cultural environment data

11.5.1 Askeladden

Askeladden is the Directorate for Cultural Heritage’s official national database for cultural monuments, sites and environments in Norway. The database contains map-linked data on cultural monuments, sites, environments and landscapes. This kind of digital source of information, which can be used across administrative levels, will be important for the work to achieve the national goals.

The information included in the database, such as the mapping data, descriptions and historical data, must be correct, complete and consistent. Askeladden will be further developed as a central register of cultural monuments, sites and environments and will also be adapted to be able to retrieve data from reports, overviews, articles and registers that are owned and shared by other actors. This includes data from the county authorities, the Sami Parliament and the municipal authorities, the archaeological museums, the Norwegian Mapping Authority, the National Archives of Norway, and other organisations that own and administer relevant information about the cultural environment in Norway. The further development will also incorporate other databases with historical data on the same locations, such as the university museums’ databases, with information about the archaeological excavations that have been carried out.

Links will also be established to data in the Cultural Heritage Fund’s registers. Documentation and experience from restoration projects throughout the whole of Norway that have been partially funded through grants from the Cultural Heritage Fund contain valuable knowledge that might benefit other parts of the cultural environment management.

It can be challenging to collate different types of data from different sources so that they can be presented together. For example, it has been pointed out that the categories, structure, terminology, etc., in Askeladden are not adapted to Sami cultural heritage. This is discussed in more detail in the upcoming white paper on Sami policy (2020) where digitalisation is a topic.

Textbox 11.3 Focus on Sami cultural heritage

There is extensive documentation of Sami cultural monuments, sites and environments in reports, private databases, research articles and academic theses that has not been uploaded to Askeladden or made available in some other way. It is an express goal to increase the digitalisation and public availability of our cultural heritage in order to promote democracy (cf. white paper National Strategy for Digital Preservation and Dissemination of Cultural Heritage (Meld. St. 24 (2008–2009)). As much data as possible shall be digitised and made available through dissemination-friendly, searchable and accessible ICT solutions. Representation of Sami cultural heritage is an important part of this work.

Through a research project in Vestertana, at the far end of the Tana fjord, 800 automatically protected Sami cultural monuments and sites were registered between 2007 and 2011. By comparison, 3,439 archaeological monuments and sites have been documented for the entire municipality of Tana. This illustrates the potential for finds of Sami cultural monuments and sites in areas that have not yet been charted.

Figure 11.1 Cultural monuments and sites in Tana.

Figure 11.1 Cultural monuments and sites in Tana.

The map shows how registrations from a research project carried out in Vestertana complement the data from Askeladden.

Source Source: The Sami Parliament

11.5.2 Registers of cultural environments of national interest

The purpose of an inventory of cultural environments of national interest is to send a proactive, clear signal about which cultural environment interests must be given special consideration in land-use and sector planning. This inventory will constitute a knowledge base for municipal authorities and other public authorities. The inventory will be in the Directorate for Cultural Heritage’s register of cultural environments and cultural-historical landscapes of national interest, which operates with three categories.

The inventory is intended to cover the entire spectrum of cultural environments and landscapes of national cultural-historical interest, from densely populated urban areas to rural areas. The three categories are as follows:

  • Urban cultural environments of national interest (NB! areas)

  • Cultural historical landscape of national interest (KULA)

  • A new category that will include cultural environments in small settlements, fishing villages, mooring areas and industrial facilities, etc.

The regional cultural environment authorities will use information from the inventories as the basis for suggestions to and dialogue with the municipal authorities and other public authorities (for example, in planning processes) and contribute to the development of good guidelines for land use. It is a goal that in connection with the preparation of municipal master plans and zoning plans, the municipal authorities safeguard these areas through the use of the Planning and Building Act.

The “Naturbase” database, which is administered by the Norwegian Environment Agency, contains overviews of Agricultural Landscapes of Special Interest (cf. box 10.4) and the national inventory of valuable cultural landscapes.

11.6 Documentation technology

In recent decades, there have been major changes in documentation methods, and it is now possible to collect large volumes of data in a very short time. This provides new opportunities to create good overviews as a basis for assigning priorities and designing long-term preservation strategies, as well as opening up new possibilities for research and dissemination.

Figure 11.2 The Gjellestad ship.

Figure 11.2 The Gjellestad ship.

A ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey carried out in 2018 revealed traces of a Viking ship and a number of Iron Age burial mounds and houses in Jellhaugen in the municipality of Halden.

Source Photo: The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU)

Non-invasive prospection methods are increasingly being used in mapping, monitoring and documentation in cultural environment management, although the methods currently have some limitations in terms of use in Norwegian topography. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and other geophysical methods have been used in Norway for decades, especially in connection with archaeological surveys. The use of technology, such as digital mapping data, 3D models, Lidar (light detection and ranging) and satellite data, can further enhance the precision of different types of mapping. Developments within processing, data storage and accurate measuring have contributed to important advances in recent years.

11.6.1 The National Elevation Model of Norway and Copernicus

Through the extensive mapping work being carried out under the National Elevation Model of Norway project, a detailed overview of the terrain and built elements in Norway is being developed. The Elevation Model has great potential for use in cultural environment management, including for mapping, monitoring, and quality assurance of location data, and to enable the combined assessment of larger areas.

It is important that the cultural environment authorities make good, active use of the various possibilities afforded by the Elevation Model, such as probability assessments of where archaeological monuments and sites can be expected to be found, which the method can be used to identify.

The Elevation Model provides the authorities with a good starting point to process data that have been entered and made available through the European Earth Observation Programme – Copernicus. Copernicus is a major European programme to increase our understanding of nature, climate change and the environment. The programme has been in development for a long time as a joint venture between, among others, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission, EU member states, and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Copernicus became fully operational with the establishment of the Copernicus Programme in 2014. Norway became a formal participant in the programme in June 2015. Norway is participating in a working group aimed at optimising the services Copernicus provides for management of the cultural environment. These include a number of mapping and monitoring services, which can help to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of mapping and monitoring work.

Textbox 11.4 A courtyard site in the municipality of Bindal

The National Elevation Model of Norway has revolutionised some aspects of cultural environment management. This regards mapping in particular. While some selected areas in Norway are mapped well, other areas only contain chance discoveries. The Elevation Model provides overviews and enables assessment of the archaeological potential of large landscape areas in a cost-effective way.

In Nordland County, for example, a courtyard site dating back to the Iron Age was recently discovered through analysis of data from the Elevation Model. In the photo, wall banks of at least 12 buildings opening on to a central courtyard can be seen. The buildings are about 15 metres long. These kinds of circular clusters were in use between 200 and 800 AD, and are thought to have been an assembly site, i.e., a form of parliament or Thing assembly where equals could meet in an early form of democracy.

Figure 11.3 Use of data from the National Elevation Model of Norway.

Figure 11.3 Use of data from the National Elevation Model of Norway.

The image on the left shows how the courtyard site appears in the National Elevation Model. The picture on the right is a visualisation of a courtyard site in Hjelle in the municipality of Stryn.

Source Photo / source: Kartverket, Geovekst og kommuner – Geodata, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage and © Arkikon AS

11.6.2 Geophysical surveying methods

Several institutions currently have the equipment and expertise to be able to conduct various types of non-invasive prospections in connection with archaeological surveys and land management. The use of non-invasive prospection methods paves the way for new ways of identifying, managing and monitoring cultural environments, without damaging them. However, it takes coordination, expertise and large investments to develop and maintain this kind of specialised expertise. There is therefore a need to assess various solutions that can make it easier for county authorities, the Sami Parliament, municipal authorities and developers to order geophysical surveys in conjunction with archaeological investigations. Geophysical surveying techniques currently have a number of limitations in respect of the geological, topographical and climatic conditions in which they can be conducted and the types of archaeological structures they identify.

In many cases, geophysical surveying methods improve the quality of overviews of cultural environments and increase the knowledge base. Any limitations in the current methods must not deter the use of technology that can complement the data that can be registered now. The methods require further development.

11.6.3 Digital documentation

Digital documentation provides a wide range of new opportunities within research, management and dissemination of cultural heritage. Documentation can provide new knowledge, understanding and experiences, but documentation will never be able to replace the physical cultural monuments, sites and environments, as a source of knowledge, enjoyment and use. All forms of documentation are by definition a secondary source. No matter how accurate and comprehensive a piece of documentation is, the original will always be the primary source.

In cases where for various reasons cultural monuments, sites and environments cannot be preserved or made accessible, digital documentation, such as virtual presentations, will strengthen the interpretation work and increase the accessibility of the data for researchers and the public (cf. section 8.3.1).

Textbox 11.5 Digital documentation of boat parts and ship finds

Since 2007, the Norwegian Maritime Museum, a department of the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (“Norsk Folkemuseum”), has gradually adopted digital tools for archaeological documentation. The goal is to develop a full digital documentation process, where all relevant scientific data are stored in a reliable, permanent manner. In 2010, the Museum established a documentation laboratory. This has resulted in a reduction in the amount of time that needs to be spent at the excavation site. It also enables 3D drawing of the boat parts and allows users to build models, both digitally and physically. This work has strengthened the interpretation of the ship finds and made the data more readily available to researchers and the public.

From 2010, photogrammetry became the main method for documentation on land, and from 2012, also under water. Digital models are used to perform various analyses of ship finds. Side-scan sonar (SSS) has also been introduced as the standard surveying method for mapping the seabed. The digital methods have provided time savings and enable completely new types of analyses and studies.

From 2020, scanning will be used to document boat parts. The Norwegian Maritime Museum is also developing common routines and processes for digital documentation at excavations in partnership with Bergen Maritime Museum and Stavanger Maritime Museum, which are departments of Museum Vest and Museum Stavanger, respectively. A three-year project, with funding from the Arts Council Norway, aims to develop a common standard for digital data collection, as well as ensure long-term storage and access to digital data from archaeological survey and excavation projects.

Figure 11.4 Photogrammetry model of the shipwreck Selør 3 off the coast of Lindesnes.

Figure 11.4 Photogrammetry model of the shipwreck Selør 3 off the coast of Lindesnes.

This method helps archaeologists get an overview of the find site. Here the documentation is being used for systematic sampling of the cargo.

Source Photo: Frode Kvalø, the Norwegian Maritime Museum

11.7 Follow-up

The government will

  • ensure a good, up-to-date knowledge base

    This will in part be done by:

    • primarily channelling funding for cultural environment research through the Research Council of Norway

    • integrating knowledge development related to climate change and the cultural environment from other research

    • adapting the current environmental monitoring programme in the cultural environment sector to the new needs for knowledge and documentation

    • further developing Askeladden, the official national database for cultural monuments, sites and environments

    • building on the process that has been initiated to strengthen knowledge production within medieval archaeology

12 International cooperation

International projects in the cultural environment sector have long been a priority area and have been discussed at length in the previous two white papers in this area in 2005 and 2013 (St.meld. nr. 16 (2004–2005) and Meld. St. 35 (2012–2013)).

Internationally, the concept of cultural heritage, which encompasses both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, is widely used and often defines the framework for international cooperation in this area.

International cooperation provides Norway with an opportunity to influence initiatives and decisions. This kind of multilateral cooperation can also be an instrument in the work to reach other foreign policy goals, such as a safe, secure local environment and good relations with neighbouring countries. It is also a matter of Norway contributing expertise in its partner countries and also gaining new knowledge about how other nations have resolved their challenges. The same is also true of bilateral cooperation.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 form an important framework for Norway’s international work in the cultural environment sphere, as well as nationally. Through international cooperation, Norway helps strengthen the work towards sustainable development globally. The protection of World Heritage and other cultural heritage is also an integral part of Norway’s international human rights work on a global scale.

12.1 Global cooperation

It is stated in the white paper Norway’s Role and Interests in Multilateral Cooperation (Meld. St. 27 (2018–2019)) that the government will use the United Nations and other relevant multilateral institutions actively to ensure a good handling of global environmental challenges and work towards the Sustainable Development Goals, including an ambitious policy in the area of cultural and natural heritage, among others.

12.1.1 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The UN has established 16 specialised agencies that work on international cooperation in specific areas. UNESCO is, among other things, responsible for promoting cooperation and providing a global framework for the protection of cultural heritage, primarily through common standards and norms. Norway is an active contributor to UNESCO, both financially and through activities that further the implementation of the conventions that Norway has ratified. This applies in particular to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

In the coming years, the government will continue its strong international commitment and work, with a special focus on certain areas. Priority will be given to areas where there are increasing challenges internationally, such as cultural heritage that is at risk due to war and terrorism, natural disasters or climate change, and the work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Figure 12.1 Norway’s World Heritage Properties.

Figure 12.1 Norway’s World Heritage Properties.

The World Heritage List comprises sites designated as areas of cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value. As of 1 January 2020, the list comprised 1,121 properties in 169 countries, of which 869 are cultural properties, 213 are natural properties, and 39 mixed properties are listed due to both cultural and natural heritage values. Norway has eight properties inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Source Source: The Directorate for Cultural Heritage

The World Heritage Convention

UNESCO’s Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, often referred to as the World Heritage Convention, secures some of the world’s most important natural areas and particularly important cultural heritage. The World Heritage Convention has almost universal support and has been ratified by 193 UNESCO member states.

The organisation of the work in this area in Norway, where the Ministry of Climate and Environment is responsible for the management of both the natural and the cultural environment, provides a good framework for implementation of the convention. Norway has been elected as a member of the World Heritage Committee in the period 2017 to 2021. The Committee is composed of representatives from 21 UNESCO member states and is tasked with implementing the World Heritage Convention. This includes determining the use of the World Heritage Fund, reviewing of the state of conservation of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, and deciding whether a property should be included on the World Heritage List.

Textbox 12.1 World Heritage Leadership Programme

The World Heritage Leadership Programme is a six-year partnership project between Norway and the two advisory bodies to the World Heritage Convention: the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM).

The aim of the programme is to improve conservation and management practices for culture and nature through the work of the World Heritage Convention, as an integral component of the contribution of World Heritage to sustainable development. The programme also attaches importance to better integration of management of cultural and natural heritage.

The partnership is organised as a programme carried out by ICCROM and IUCN in dialogue with the World Heritage Centre and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). The programme aims to build the skills of practitioners working through the World Heritage Convention. In this way, Norway is supporting the development of new methods and tools for better implementation of the World Heritage Convention on a global level. Ensuring the transferability of practices for use in the management of other cultural and natural heritage is a priority. Important activities include the further development of guidance manuals on best practices for the management of World Heritage properties, for example, on impact assessment in World Heritage properties.

Norway’s priorities for its term of office on the Committee are to ensure the protection of the outstanding universal values of World Heritage properties and to promote a more integrated management of cultural and natural heritage in line with the principles of the Convention. Further, Norway will strive to make the World Heritage List more representative and to strengthen institutions, experts and local communities so that they are able to safeguard the World Heritage. The goal is to ensure the inclusion of regions and various types of cultural and natural heritage that are currently underrepresented on the list. Furthermore, Norway wants to make the countries better able to react and take action when World Heritage are threatened as a result of war, conflict or natural disasters.

The government will uphold these priorities by continuing to contribute to UNESCO’s overarching efforts to strengthen the implementation of the Convention after expiry of Norway’s term of office on the World Heritage Committee. The government will attach particular importance to following up the capacity-building work to ensure that countries can preserve and benefit from their own cultural and natural heritage. Norway will in particular underline the importance of building and sharing knowledge about management of World Heritage, and making it accessible to everyone involved. To this end, a six-year programme has been established between Norway and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (IUCN) to develop new methods and tools for better implementation of the World Heritage Convention globally (cf. box 12.1). The project period is 2016–2022. A mid-term evaluation of the collaboration will be carried out in 2020, which in turn will form the basis for assessing whether to continue the programme or not.

Textbox 12.2 The Antarctic

Physical traces of expeditions, trapping activities and research in the Antarctic constitute an important bank of knowledge and experience about past activities in the area and are of international importance. Of the 90 cultural monuments and sites on the 2014 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM)’s list of historic sites and monuments, nine are objects from Norwegian operations on the continent. Norway’s policy for management of the cultural environment in the Antarctic aims to ensure that important traces of Norwegian activities on the continent are preserved. Norway wants issues concerning cultural environment management and assessment of preservation status to be put on the agenda of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting. Norway’s active participation in the multilateral cooperation to preserve the cultural environment in the Antarctic is a natural part of Norway’s policy and role in the Antarctic Treaty cooperation. See also the white paper Norwegian Interests and Policy in the Antarctic (Meld. St. 32 (2014–2015)).

Development aid funds for World Heritage protection

The World Heritage Convention is one of the most important conventions for the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. The World Heritage properties are global common goods, at the same time as they are an important resource for many developing countries. Good, long-term management of a nation’s cultural and natural heritage is essential for sustainable development and poverty reduction. African cultural and natural heritage is underrepresented on the World Heritage List and is vulnerable in terms of pressure and challenges associated with the management of these assets. Poor management and lack of systems for capacity building are a particular challenge.

In connection with Norway’s term on the World Heritage Committee, Norway significantly increased its development aid budget for projects to strengthen the management and protection of World Heritage globally for the years 2019 and 2020. During these two years, a total of NOK 60 million has been allocated to initiatives on the African continent, with an emphasis on natural heritage.

The government will work to ensure that this becomes a long-term contribution.

Figure 12.2 International cooperation

Figure 12.2 International cooperation

Located 2100 metres above sea level, Ushguli in Georgia is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. Registration and mapping of cultural monuments, sites and environments is important to preserve the place’s unique identity and its World Heritage status. Georgia’s map database for cultural heritage is the result of a long-standing joint project between the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage and the Directorate for Cultural Heritage’s sister organisation in Georgia, funded by Norwegian development aid funds.

Source Photo: Vegard Berggård, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage in war and conflict zones

Norway was an early signatory of the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (the Hague Convention). With cultural heritage increasingly being used as a target and shield in armed conflicts, the Convention’s relevance has increased in recent years. In 2016, Norway also ratified the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention (1999), entailing increased commitments for Norway in the implementation of the Convention. The parties commit to introducing criminal provisions for violations of the protocol, as well as taking various steps, such as identifying and protecting important cultural property. The protocol also clarifies responsibilities and duties in armed hostilities, and it sets requirements for the protection of cultural assets. Protection of cultural objects and places of worship in the event of armed conflicts is also regulated in the third Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

The Ministry of Climate and Environment has a particular responsibility for the implementation of the Hague Convention and the Second Protocol, while the various ministries and sectors are responsible for complying with the obligations in their areas. The Ministry of Climate and Environment will initiate work to clarify the distribution of responsibilities and roles for the various parties involved and to raise awareness of the obligations pursuant to the Convention.

The Ministry of Defence is working on the implementation of the Hague Convention and Second Protocol obligations in connection with protection of cultural properties in the defence sector. This is partly being done through the practical guide Manual on the Law of Armed Conflict, which is binding for all the agencies in the defence sector, and which explains Norway’s interpretation of these international legal obligations. The government wants to ensure that the obligations deriving from the Hague Convention are known in all the relevant sectors. Everyone who participates in military operations for Norway shall have received training in how obligations under the Hague Convention are to be met in practice.

Norway provides funding for preventive work and emergency response measures for cultural and natural heritage in the event of natural disasters or situations of war or conflict. The funding is channelled through the secretariat of UNESCO’s Heritage Emergency Fund, which has an international network of experts that can be deployed together with humanitarian aid to help local communities protect their cultural heritage.

12.1.2 International heritage crime

International cultural heritage crime includes illicit trafficking and sale of cultural objects and deliberate destruction of cultural environments, including in connection with deprivation of access to lands and deprivation of identity. In situations of war and conflict, cultural heritage is increasingly deliberately attacked and destroyed. Irreplaceable cultural objects are traded illegally, often contributing to terrorist financing. This illegal trade often takes place through criminal networks linked to drugs and human trafficking. Nations must enforce their own legislation in order to crack down on this illegal trade and thus prevent depletion of their cultural heritage. At the same time, international cooperation is important to develop common guidelines, share experiences, and good systems for building skills and capacity among affected parties. With a view to spreading knowledge about and ensuring training of personnel for the fight against illicit trafficking and sale of cultural objects, the government will continue its support to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Cultural heritage crime will also be discussed in more detail in the upcoming white paper on environmental crime.

Figure 12.3 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before and after destruction.

Figure 12.3 The Temple of Bel in Palmyra before and after destruction.

The Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by IS on 30 August 2015. Palmyra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1980 and has been on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2013.

Source Photo: © Joseph Eid, AFP

12.2 European cooperation

12.2.1 The Council of Europe

The main task of the Council of Europe is to promote and protect human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Cultural heritage is an integral part of this, and importance is attached to the role cultural heritage plays in the work linked to democracy building and human rights. Furthermore, it is emphasised that cultural heritage plays an important role in people’s identity formation and sense of belonging and is part of the empirical foundation for social development and policy making. Moreover, access to one’s history and cultural heritage is a democratic right.

The Council of Europe’s regulations and standards are primarily developed in targeted, intergovernmental committees, and in many areas, this work has been and continues to be innovative and forward-looking. Norway is an active participant in the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee for Culture, Heritage and Landscape (CDCPP), where the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, and the Ministry of Climate and Environment are all represented.

Using a variety of initiatives, the Council of Europe helps promote diversity and dialogue through access to cultural heritage and foster a sense of identity, collective memory and mutual understanding within and between communities. Several of these initiatives have implications for Norway, such as the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century, European Heritage Days, Cultural Routes, and a number of professional networks and strategies.

The Council of Europe is also an important meeting place where member states can both discuss common solutions and develop policy. Norway is an active participant in these kinds of contexts, and this work will be continued. The government will attach particular importance to efforts that integrate work on cultural heritage, human rights, democracy, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

12.2.2 Cooperation with the EU

Norway’s relationship with Europe is strategically important, and Norway participates in a number of arenas to promote Norwegian interests, including in the cultural environment sector. In Norway in Europe – The Norwegian Government’s strategy for cooperation with the EU 2018–2021, it is emphasised that Norway must pursue an active and effective European policy, and that it must be developed and implemented in a way that promotes Norwegian interests and Norway’s visions for Europe as successfully as possible.

Cooperation with the EU covers all policy areas, including the cultural environment. Norway adopts EU directives that affect its national cultural environment policy through the EEA Agreement. In addition, the EU has a number of “soft law” measures, in the form of guidelines, recommendations, declarations, etc. The European Year of Cultural Heritage, which was celebrated in 2018, is an example of an initiative that Norway also participated in.

European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage

There has been growing focus on cultural heritage in the EU in recent years. This has been expressed, among other things, through the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 and in the EU’s subsequent follow-up. One of the results is a new action plan: the European Framework for Action on Cultural Heritage. The Framework for Action establishes four principles and five main thematic areas for action where the EU wishes to contribute. It stresses the importance of cultural heritage for an inclusive, sustainable, resilient and innovative Europe and for stronger global partnerships.

The Framework for Action and the thematic areas largely coincide with the Norwegian government’s proposed new national goals and the organisation of work on cultural environment management in Norway.

Through the Framework for Action, an expert group has been established to discuss and share experiences with the goal of formulating a sustainable and participatory cultural heritage policy in Europe. The government believes there is a great potential for exchange of experience and mutual support and will therefore give priority to Norway’s participation in the Commission Expert Group on Cultural Heritage and the implementation of the Framework for Action.

European projects

Through the EEA Agreement, Norway is affiliated with several EU programmes. This provides an opportunity to strengthen strategic initiatives, networks and expertise. Active participation enables Norway to keep up-to-date with and exert an influence on developments in Europe. For example, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage is participating in a project that receives funding from the European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion (ESPON) programme which is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The purpose of the project is to collect statistics on cultural heritage in a selection of European countries. There is high demand for statistics to be able to measure the social impact of the cultural environment.

The objective of the Mission of Norway to the European Union is to safeguard Norwegian interests vis-à-vis EU institutions in all areas affected by Norway’s cooperation with the EU. The environmental councils are currently responsible for the Mission of Norway to the European Union’s implementation of Norway’s cultural environment policy. Good coordination is necessary to safeguard Norwegian interests in the cultural heritage sector. The government will consider possible solutions to strengthen Norwegian interests and collaboration with the EU in this area.

12.2.3 The EEA and Norway Grants

The EEA and Norway Grants are Norway’s contribution to reducing economic and social disparities in Europe. The grants are also intended to help strengthen bilateral relations with the beneficiary states. Norway’s total contribution in the period 2014–2021 amounts to EUR 2.8 billion. Based on negotiations with the EU and the individual beneficiary states, EUR 177 million has been allocated to the Cultural Entrepreneurship, Cultural Heritage and Cultural Cooperation programme area in nine countries (cf. box 12.3).

EEA and Norway Grants’ cultural and cultural heritage programmes contribute to reducing social and economic disparities and receive a high number of applications in many beneficiary countries. Cultural heritage is a fundamental bearer of identity and an important resource for green growth, tourism and other commercial activities, and thus central to long-term, sustainable development for local communities. Great importance is attached to proposed projects’ ability to produce results and communicate them in a good way to a broad audience.

The experience from previous periods with EEA and Norway Grants indicates that the cultural environment authorities and other stakeholders in the cultural environment sector in Norway, who have participated as Norwegian partners in projects in EEA countries, have benefited greatly from their participation. Upper secondary schools, museums and municipal authorities are examples of participants who have gained new, valuable knowledge and expertise and built up important networks through their participation in a project. In this way, the projects also serve to strengthen bonds and cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary countries and provide added value for Norwegian institutions.

The government’s strategy Norway in Europe. The Norwegian Government’s strategy for cooperation with the EU 2018–2021 highlights the EEA and Norway Grants as the main financial instrument in Norway’s European policy. In addition, through the cultural and cultural heritage programmes funded by the EEA and Norway Grants, the Norwegian cultural environment sector has the opportunity to acquire new knowledge by discussing common challenges with European colleagues. This is an opportunity that more than 60 Norwegian cultural heritage organisations made use of during the 2009–2014 funding period.

A mid-term evaluation of the cultural and cultural heritage programmes was carried out in 20151. The evaluation report concluded that the programmes have a significant impact on the preservation of European cultural heritage. The evaluation also found that the programmes contribute to positive social and economic effects that endure well beyond the project period.

Textbox 12.3 EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021

Programme Area (PA) 14 Cultural Entrepreneurship, Cultural Heritage and Cultural Cooperation under the EEA and Norway Grants 2014–2021 aims to help reduce social and economic disparities within the European Economic Area (EEA) through cultural cooperation, cultural entrepreneurship, and management of cultural heritage.

A large proportion of the funds go to projects that revitalise cultural heritage (restoration and redevelopment for new use). These projects create new jobs and boost activity in the local business sector. They also create social meeting places and contribute a stronger sense of place and belonging among local citizens. Inclusion of minority groups and protection and dissemination of the minorities’ cultural heritage is a special priority area.

There is extensive bilateral cooperation in the cultural programmes, at both the programme level and the project level. The Directorate for Cultural Heritage and/or the Arts Council Norway are programme partners in all the programmes. There is a target of Norwegian participation in one third of the projects in the programmes where the Directorate for Cultural Heritage is a programme partner. Bilateral cooperation contributes to reciprocal sharing of knowledge and experience.

Funding amounting to EUR 177 million has been allocated to this programme area in nine beneficiary countries.

Figure 12.4 The EEA and Norway Grants for Programme Area 14 in the period 2014–2021, broken down by beneficiary country.

Figure 12.4 The EEA and Norway Grants for Programme Area 14 in the period 2014–2021, broken down by beneficiary country.

Source Source: The EEA and Norway Grants website

Figure 12.5 Young Guardians of Heritage.

Figure 12.5 Young Guardians of Heritage.

The Young Guardians of Heritage project in Slovenia provides training in traditional crafts. This project receives funding through the EEA and Norway Grants and is being carried out in collaboration with the Museum Centre in Hordaland.

Source Photo: Ingrid Aas

12.2.4 Nordic cooperation

The Nordic Council of Ministers is the official body for inter-governmental co-operation in the Nordic Region. Through a declaration dated 20 August 2019, the Prime Ministers of the Nordic Countries have adopted a vision that the Nordic Region will become the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030. The cooperation in the Nordic Council of Ministers must serve this purpose. In a declaration of 30 October 2019, the Nordic Ministers of Culture encourage the sectors to integrate culture and cultural heritage as an important premise for the work towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The cultural environment has been included as a topic in the Nordic environmental cooperation since the second half of the 1990s. One of the six working groups within environmental cooperation has the cultural environment as one of its spheres of work: the Nordic Working Group on Biodiversity. The overall objective for this working group is to stop the loss of biodiversity, as well as contribute to sustainable use and reduced loss and fragmentation of natural habitats and cultural environments. Among other things, the working group will work to increase knowledge about the effects of climate change and climate change adaptation and contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals in Agenda 2030.

Nordic cooperation in the cultural environment sphere has great untapped potential; for example, on topics such as the circular economy, landscapes, attractive cities, the impacts of climate change, and climate change adaptation.

The Nordic countries have collaborated on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention for many years, through joint projects, Nordic initiatives, and in the work on the World Heritage Committee. In addition, the Nordic cultural heritage authorities meet regularly to discuss common challenges and solutions in the cultural environment sector.

The government is committed to continuing and strengthening the Nordic cooperation in the cultural environment sector and contributing to cultural heritage becoming an important premise in the work to achieve the Nordic Council of Ministers’ vision for sustainability.

12.3 Follow-up

The government will

  • work for an ambitious global policy in the cultural environment sector

    This will in part be done by:

    • prioritising efforts related to follow-up of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and cultural environments under pressure

    • continuing efforts through the development aid funds to strengthen the management and protection of World Heritage globally

    • prioritising Norwegian participation in the EU Cultural Heritage Forum

  • be a driving force in implementing international conventions that help safeguard cultural environments

    This will in part be done by:

    • continuing the Norwegian priorities in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention

    • clarifying the distribution of responsibilities and the roles of the various actors related to the obligations in the first additional protocol to the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Convention and the Second Protocol

13 Economic and administrative consequences

The government wants everyone to have the opportunity to get involved in and assume responsibility for the cultural environment. It also wants to ensure that the cultural environment shall contribute to sustainable development and preserve a diversity of cultural environments.

In the Granavolden platform, the government states that it will further develop incentive schemes for the preservation of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage and the safeguarding of new finds so that future generations will also be able to enjoy important cultural monuments, sites and environments. Furthermore, it states that the government will strengthen the Cultural Heritage Fund so that more private owners of cultural monuments and sites can receive grants to restore properties deemed worthy of preservation.

The measures and instruments proposed in this white paper will contribute to expedient achievement of these goals.

As the various proposals are translated into concrete actions, the socioeconomic effects and any consequences for private and public parties will be measured in accordance with the Instructions for official studies and reports. Through assessments of the impact of the use of instruments in specific cases, the government will ensure that the business sector, owners of cultural monuments and sites, and other stakeholders are not encumbered with an unreasonable burden.

The proposals presented in the white paper will be covered within the existing budget frameworks. The annual budgetary follow-up will depend on economic developments and the budget situation, among other things.



Mid-term evaluation of the cultural heritage sector during the EEA Grants 2009–2014, Evaluation report 2/2015, Center for Strategy & Evaluation Services.

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