Secretary General of UNESCO Antigua & Barbuda Dr Reginald Murphy believes that with resources and effort Montserrat can one day be a location of a World Heritage Site.
Dr Murphy was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s Annual General Meeting of the Montserrat National Trust, which is celebrating it’s 50th year of existence.
In his presentation called Taking it to a New Level Dr Murphy identified three locations which he believes could one day be put forth for World Heritage Site status. He said the Soufriere Hills Volcano, the Centre Hills and the Petroglyphs all are valuable resources which can enhance Montserrat’s cultural heritage.
He said although Montserrat has been an associate member of UNESCO since 2013 it has not taken advantage of the opportunities available. These include access to funding and technical training as well as mirroring aspects of what is happening in other jurisdictions to build its own cultural heritage brand. However, he commended the National Trust stating it was one of the best in the region.
Murphy, who spearheaded Antigua’s successful application for Nelson’s Dockyard to become a World Heritage Site as well as other national projects which have attracted millions in grants, said Montserrat needs to do an inventory and build a national heritage site list. Select one for priority development and execute it.
The archaeologist and historian said the application process for World Heritage Site status is a daunting one and requires training and a lot of resources. The island would need to prove it has the capacity, expertise and a sustainable plan for maintaining the site. However, the benefits of a being part of a global brand will be a win for the island. It comes with international publicity, increased tourism and will make heritage a major economic driver.
He encouraged Montserrat to become a more active part in UNESCO as the Caribbean needs more representation. Latin America, he said, heavily dominates the organisation and thereby attracts the most funding.