ICC Sydney recognises First Nations Peoples at peak cultural heritage conservation symposium  

23 Aug 2023

International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney), managed by ASM Global, will welcome the principal advisory body on cultural heritage to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee – the International Council on Monuments and Sites for its 21st General Assembly and Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS GA 2023). To be held from 31 August to 9 September 2023, the 10-day event will help to drive positive social impact and champion heritage protection, environmental sustainability and acknowledgement of First Nations culture. 

The event, that has been six years in the making, will showcase the venue’s industry leading Legacy Program in action as it welcomes up to 1,500 archaeology, history, urban planning, architecture and academic specialists to convene at ICC Sydney to share knowledge and deliver a boost to ‘grass roots’ interest in cultural heritage and conservation work throughout Australia and globally.

The GA2023 Scientific Symposium Schedule features an Indigenous Heritage Program presented across two days of conference sessions that will feature diverse cultures, voices, values, rituals, and places. Topics include a Partnership to Reform First Nations Heritage Protections in Australia (First Nations Heritage Protection Alliance, Australian Government); Changing Heritage Practice Through First Nations Consultation and Indigenous Protected Areas – Protecting Natural and Cultural Values (Australian Government).

The Indigenous Heritage Program will be co-chaired by Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker – an Aboriginal man of Alyawarr descent from the Barkly Tableland and former Indigenous Member of the Australian Heritage Council, and Dr Diane Menzies – a Rongowhakaata, Aitanga a Mahaki woman from Aotearoa New Zealand.

ICC Sydney CEO and Group Director – Convention Centres, ASM Global, Geoff Donaghy said the shared values of ICC Sydney and ICOMOS in recognising the role and contribution of Indigenous People in the nation’s culture, environment and sites of significance led to the team’s full support of the conference’s program and commitment to legacy.

“As an iconic destination, which stands and operates on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation – the land of Tumbalong and the waterway of Gomora, on what is known today as Darling Harbour – ICC Sydney strives to truly reconcile with First Nations Peoples through our business practices and the commitments we have made through our Reconciliation Action Plans.

“It is our hope through the activation of ICC Sydney’s industry leading Legacy Program and the inclusion of the comprehensive ICOMOS GA 2023 two-day Indigenous Heritage program, specialists in relevant fields will engage with First Nations heritage – helping to drive long lasting positive legacies in their practices following the event,” Mr. Donaghy said.

Australia ICOMOS President, Professor Tracy Ireland, underscored the importance of ensuring value alignment in the process of selecting event partners for this significant global event, bringing new World Heritage perspectives to the nation.

“In a world grappling with the escalating challenges of climate change, health crises, inequality, political tensions, and the degradation of sacred sites, the imminent 21st General Assembly and Scientific Symposium of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) instils hope that we can collaboratively spark change in our perceptions of heritage and culture.

GA2023 will not only facilitate discussions around these critical matters, but also shed light on innovative global practices. The selection of ICC Sydney as our venue partner carries immense significance – the assurance of their team’s dedication to steering and facilitating event legacies of this nature is important for ICOMOS,” Prof Tracy Ireland added.

The event management company behind ICOMOS GA2023, The Arinex Group, has also been a vital partner in driving the event’s cultural, social and environmental sustainability, having worked with Australia ICOMOS since 2017. CEO Nicole Walker said GA2023 reflects these shared values.

“Throughout our six-year partnership with Australia ICOMOS and ICC Sydney, we’ve witnessed the powerful impact of collective efforts in championing cultural recognition and environmental consciousness. Our collaboration has not only led to this momentous event but also coincided with Arinex achieving carbon neutral certification in 2022 and the more recent formation of our own Reconciliation Action Plan.

“This synergy with Australia ICOMOS and ICC Sydney magnifies our commitment to responsible event management and the enduring legacies that will echo far beyond GA2023,” Ms. Walker said.

The ICOMOS GA2023 Scientific Symposium broader program will address themes of Resilience, Responsibility, Rights, Relationships, Indigenous Heritage, Culture-Nature Journey, Heritage for Climate, Heritage as Sustainability and Digital Heritage.

ICC Sydney’s Legacy Program will also be activated across its Environmental Sustainability stream. The venue team will support ICOMOS in reducing and reporting on event waste, utility usage, and carbon footprint by implementing waste streaming and providing carbon friendly menu options while supporting the organiser to fulfil the requirements of their event EarthCheck carbon neutral certification.