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Beekeeping in Slovenia and Lipizzan horse breeding make it onto UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

At the seventeenth session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, taking place in Morocco, the projects “Beekeeping in Slovenia, a way of life”, and “Lipizzan horse breeding traditions” have been placed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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The nomination entitled “Beekeeping in Slovenia, a way of life was overseen by the Ministry of Culture. According to culture minister Asta Vrečko, the confirmation that these projects are being placed on the UNESCO list is a great new achievement for Slovenian culture: “The entry of beekeeping on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage is of exceptional importance both for Slovenia and for the world. In times of climate change, bees and beekeeping must be given special attention, and traditional beekeeping – a way of life that is in harmony with nature – must be particularly taken care of. Beekeeping heritage has a long history, one which is also connected with culture and amateur art. Nowadays, urban beehives also represent an important segment of beekeeping.”

Around 11,000 people practise beekeeping in Slovenia. Beekeeping is an important part of Slovenia’s international promotion, and World Bee Day – celebrated on 20 May – was also proposed by Slovenia. 

The Ministry of Culture also managed the international preparations for the nomination of Lipizzan horse breeding traditions. This international project illustrates common European heritage and places it in a cultural context. It brings together eight countries that have signed the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Lipizzan horses have played a symbolic role in all eight countries for centuries, so the states joined together under Slovenian leadership to present cultural diversity and practices of social significance connected with rearing this famous breed. 

The entry demonstrates the existence and meaning of intangible heritage as a combination of knowledge, practices and skills linked with the rearing and breeding of Lipizzan horses. The growing role of Lipizzan horses is part of sustainable tourism and equine therapy, but the focus is on the special relationship between man and horse, based on trust and the horse being recognised as an equal partner or even family member.

Slovenia has so far had four items entered on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Škofja Loka passion play, the door-to-door rounds of Kurenti, lacemaking in Slovenia, and the art of dry stone walling, knowledge and techniques, the last being part of an international entry. Midwifery is in the process of being entered on the list, as part of an international nomination under German leadership. Meanwhile, Slovenia is also cooperating in having the art of dry stone walling include three more countries.

Note: Both Slovenian nominations received a positive assessment from the evaluation body.