Signing Ceremony – Cultural Heritage in the Old city of Jerusalem

Jul 2, 2013

Honourable Guests Distinguished Delegates Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening

It is great to be with you in the historic old city of Jerusalem today to sign this agreement to contribute to safeguarding Palestinian cultural heritage here.

Heritage is a comprehensive concept that consists of many diverse values. It is a mirror of different ways of lives, cultures and eras of mankind and the society they live in. With more than 12,000 major archaeological sites and approximately 60,000 historical buildings, Palestinian cities and towns are rich in heritage.

Jerusalem was a meeting place for various cultures and ideas and was the birthplace of prehistoric civilizations, settled societies, alphabets, religion, and literature. This cultural diversity is viewed as a source of wealth and an integral part of the human legacy. It is an important resource for Palestinian sustainable development and clearly for sustaining the cultural identity of the Palestinian people. Yet, many factors threaten the survival and continuity of Palestinian heritage. Architectural heritage is facing alarming deterioration, destruction, and negligence, due to lack of resources and the occupation, especially in East Jerusalem and Area C.

UNDP is currently partnering with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities through a USD 34 million programme aimed at rehabilitating public infrastructure for culture and tourism in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Area C.

At a time of global economic uncertainty, tourism can also play an important role in generating socio-economic opportunities, build bridges of tolerance and contribute to peace. Tourism accounts for 45 percent of foreign income of developing countries.

In the occupied Palestinian territory, tourism contributes approximately 12 percent per year to the gross domestic product (GDP), with a growth of 1 million visitors a year in total. The situation is not the same though for domestic tourism with a 10 percent drop from 2011 to 2012. Therefore, with the appropriate investment, it is estimated that Palestinian revenue and employment from tourism could easily double over the next decade.

Through this project, we are making Palestinian cultural heritage sites more prominent and accessible not only to the international community but the local one as well, thus boosting domestic tourism and ensuring a prosperous, vibrant and cohesive community.

UN Secretary General Bank Ki Moon at the Global Summit for World Travel and Tourism echoes our message “Together, we can make the global movement of people called tourism change millions of lives and help us build the world we want”.

Ladies and gentlemen, we share a joint responsibility in making sure that cultural resources are not exploited or destroyed.

UNDP is proud to have the opportunity to slightly enrich the mosaic of Palestinian cultural heritage, encourage attention to it and its high quality restoration. I would like to express our gratitude to the European Union for their longstanding partnership with UNDP in support of the Palestinian People.

In a few days, more specifically 05 July, we celebrate one-year of the European Parliament resolution on EU policy on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is based on UN Security Council Resolution 242. A resolution that clearly outlines our joint commitment to supporting the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem.

As I conclude, I would like to thank the European Union for their generous support, Al Quds University and Centre, and everyone else for making this project a reality.

Thank you - Shukran


Speech by UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator Mr Frode Mauring