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Phase II : Regional Expansion of Project

The inclusion of sites throughout Therevada and Vajrayana Buddhist areas maximizes the regional impact of the project.

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There is an urgent need in Buddhist sites of Asia to build capacity of undertaking the preservation of both the tangible and intangible culture heritage among traditional local caretakers, particularly amongst the Buddhist sangha. 

Through the millennia, Buddhist communities have developed rich traditions in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, which is now increasingly under threat from the forces of socio-economic development and the globalization of culture.  Buddhist temples throughout the Asian region including those inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List, are particularly vulnerable, given the propensity of local communities to ‘modernize’ temples or replace old temples with completely new ones.  At the same time, intangible knowledge systems concerning the rich artistic traditions related to Buddhist temples and artifacts also frequently encounter gradual degradation with many facing with extinction. This project responds to the strong pressures on the traditional heritage in the face of globalized construction trades and the rapid increase in international tourism focused on superficial, non-authentic cultural products which have led to the degradation of traditional building practices and the loss of skills among practitioners of decorative arts in living heritage communities. 

Following the pilot project implemented in Luang Prabang in Lao PDR, one of the challenges in Phase II (2004-7) of the project is to meet the beneficiary’s demand of more rapid and extensive project implementation against the accelerating pace of globalization and impact of tourism development in the region affecting on traditional living culture. Phase II adopts a cluster approach to implementation, which allows for intra-regional and regional cross-mentoring through networking and partnership building.  With the mobilization of national and regional partners brought into the planning, implementation and on-going monitoring of these sites, new strategies are formulated and particularly aimed for sustainable results in the long-run beyond the project timeline.  Consequently the project expansion is particularly concerned in geographic coverage within the region, targeted trainees, training curriculum and scopes as well as multi-level collaboration. 

In order to maximize the regional impact of the project, the implementation adopted a strategy for regional expansion throughout the Theravada and Vajrayana (Tibetan-tradition) Buddhist countries in Asia. The participating site were identified with progression in countries of Bhutan (Thimphu), Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Udong ), China (Sichuan, Xishuangbanna), India (Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim), Lao PDR (Bokeo, Champasak, Luang Prabang, Savanakhet, Vientiane), Mongolia (Orkhon Valley), Myanmar (Mandalay, Shan State), Nepal (Lalitpur, Mustang), Sri Lanka (Kandy), Thailand (Nan, Nakhon Si Thammarat).  

The process of developing training materials through documentation of traditional building, recording traditional decorative and maintenance practices facilitates the transmission of local knowledge which is fundamental to achieve project objectives with sustainable outcomes. In building the capacity to further address the project long term sustainability, in addition to existing training in Buddhist traditional decorative arts and building arts, curriculum related to heritage conservation and management are introduced to cater tertiary educational institutions where Buddhist monks and decision makers are trained. In sites and situations where both lay and religious members have been the traditional caretakers, layperson and senior monk trainees are included. The training on preventative conservation is especially significant in building the capacity of managing key Buddhist landmarks which are project implementing sites in many cases. Another training related feature is to deliver training through existing institutional platforms, including both formal and non-formal education channels where training for local trainers via training of trainers programme could also be provided. Partnerships with local and national agencies in the form of required matching contributions of financial and institutional resources are made in place to ensure long-term project sustainability in all sites.  

Phase II adopts a cluster approach which allows for intra-regional and regional cross-mentoring through networking and partnership building.  This strategy is expected to build in sustainability of results in the long-run, with the mobilization of national and regional partners brought into the planning, implementation and on-going monitoring of these sites. [more...]