ICH Elements Serch Engine

About ICH

The term ‘cultural heritage’ has changed content considerably in recent decades, partially owing to the instruments developed by UNESCO. Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalization. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life. The importance of intangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The social and economic value of this transmission of knowledge is relevant for minority groups and for mainstream social groups within a State, and is as important for developing States as for developed ones.

Intangible cultural heritage is:

  • Traditional, contemporary and living at the same time: intangible cultural heritage does not only represent inherited traditions from the past but also contemporary rural and urban practices in which diverse cultural groups take part;
  • Inclusive: we may share expressions of intangible cultural heritage that are similar to those practised by others. Whether they are from the neighbouring village, from a city on the opposite side of the world, or have been adapted by peoples who have migrated and settled in a different region, they all are intangible cultural heritage: they have been passed from one generation to another, have evolved in response to their environments and they contribute to giving us a sense of identity and continuity, providing a link from our past, through the present, and into our future. Intangible cultural heritage does not give rise to questions of whether or not certain practices are specific to a culture. It contributes to social cohesion, encouraging a sense of identity and responsibility which helps individuals to feel part of one or different communities and to feel part of society at large;
  • Representative: intangible cultural heritage is not merely valued as a cultural good, on a comparative basis, for its exclusivity or its exceptional value. It thrives on its basis in communities and depends on those whose knowledge of traditions, skills and customs are passed on to the rest of the community, from generation to generation, or to other communities;
  • Community-based: intangible cultural heritage can only be heritage when it is recognized as such by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and transmit it – without their recognition, nobody else can decide for them that a given expression or practice is their heritage.


UNSECO brochure from 2011 presents responses to the following frequently asked questions:

Source: UNSECO


Inclusive economic development

Sustainable development depends upon stable, equitable and inclusive economic growth, based on sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Inclusive economic development does not focus only on those identified as poor, but also on vulnerable people in precarious livelihoods and others who are excluded from full participation in economic activity. This requires productive and decent employment, reduction of poverty and inequalities, lowcarbon as well as resource-efficient economic growth, and welfare protection. Intangible cultural heritage constitutes an important asset for this transformative change. It constitutes a driving force for economic development, encompassing a diversity of productive activities, with both monetary and nonmonetary value, and contributes in particular to strengthening local economies. As a living heritage, it can also constitute an important source of innovation in the face of change and help achieve inclusive economic development at the local and international levels.

  • Intangible cultural heritage is often essential to sustaining the livelihoods of groups and communities.
  • Intangible cultural heritage can generate revenue and decent work for a broad range of people and individuals, including poor and vulnerable ones.
  • Intangible cultural heritage, as a living heritage, can be a major source of innovation for development.
  • Communities can also benefit from tourism activities related to intangible cultural heritage.

Local knowledge, skills and practices, maintained and enhanced through generations, provide subsistence livelihood for many people. Intangible cultural heritage can generate revenue and decent work for a broad range of people and individuals, including poor and vulnerable ones.


The project is co-funded by EU through the Interreg-IPA CBC Bulgaria–Serbia Programme.

 This website was created and maintained with the assistance of the European Union through the Interreg-IPA CBC Bulgaria-Serbia Programme, CCI No 2014TC16I5CB007.
The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the Institute for Cross-border Areas and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union or the Managing Authority of the Programme.

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