Board of Supporters meets in Sedico

Cultural and tourist associations, municipalities, mountain unions, professional associations, branches of the Italian Alpine Club, chambers of commerce, research bodies, foundations, parks, mountain huts, broadcasters, photographers… A look down the list of almost 200 Supporters of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation gives you an idea of the extent to which World Heritage status is an opportunity and a responsibility for everyone. The board met on 15 December at Villa Patt in Sedico (Belluno) to look back at and discuss the many projects undertaken in 2023 and to present the activity plan for 2024.

Thanks from vice president Padrin and director Nemela

Roberto Padrin, vice president of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation and president of the Province of Belluno, opened the meeting saying: “This is an opportunity to take stock of many of the activities the foundation has pursued this year. An important year during which outgoing president Mario Tonina, representing the Autonomous Province of Trento, handed over to new president Stefano Zannier, councillor for agri-food, forestry, fish and mountain resources of the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.”

“For all of us, the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation is a source of pride and today’s meeting is a chance for us to come together and discuss some of the most current issues. Of course, when it comes to subjects like mobility on the passes and what role to play in the forthcoming 2026 Milano Cortina Olympics, it is not always easy to find shared solutions. But the added value of an organisation like UNESCO Dolomites Foundation is precisely that it acts as a permanent panel for discussion and analysis between different areas.”

“So it’s my duty to thank the director, Mara Nemela, for her professionalism, and all the provincial and regional authorities who, thanks also to the work of their technical staff, help us carry out the everyday active conservation of the Heritage Site and engage with communities. And lastly, of course, the Supporters who are, in this respect, a fundamental resource”.

It is possible to become a Supporter of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation by paying an annual fee or by making an active contribution, like, for example, photographers who donate images to help spread the message of the geological and landscape values of the World Heritage Site.

And in addition to concrete support, there is the support that comes from ideas, as emphasised by the foundation’s director Mara Nemela. It is essential that the values that led to the region receiving recognition are shared widely. It is important that it is not seen as something that has been ordained from above, but rather that it is a platform for jointly planning the actions that will protect the Dolomites.

Still more work to do

Members of the Foundation’s Technical Committee presented a rich “menu” of past and future initiatives. These were distributed among the relevant Operating Networks: the Geological Heritage Network and the Education and Scientific Research Network, both coordinated by the Autonomous Province of Trento; the Development, Sustainable Tourism and Mobility Network, coordinated by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano-South Tyrol; the Landscape Heritage and Protected Areas Network, coordinated by the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia; and the Promotion of Sustainable Tourism Network, coordinated by the Province of Belluno.

2023 has been the first year in a five-year period of financing from the Fund for Neighbouring Municipalities and many of the projects launched will see developments in 2024. These include: monitoring the state of health of the site and the tourist flows; scientific research; promotion of the Dolomites World Heritage Geotrail; training tour operators, teachers, guides, and local administrations on the values of World Heritage; educational activities on visiting the mountain with awareness; drafting guidelines for influencers who provide communications about the mountains to encourage an authentic and prudent approach; working with various levels and types of schools; a catalogue of good practices for active conservation of the site; increasingly intense involvement of quality producers; network activities for Mountain Hut Managers; the “Noi Dolomiti” project to continue giving a voice (on social media and local TV) to those who live and work in the World Heritage Site.

As stated during the Board of Supporters meeting in Sedico, all these commitments would bear no fruit without the involvement and collaboration of the actors concerned and without sharing the rationale for them with those who implement them, namely, preserving a heritage site that belongs to all and is the responsibility of everyone.