World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced that the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve and its wider Cultural Landscape have been named to the 2022 World Monuments Watch, a selection of 25 heritage sites of worldwide significance whose preservation is urgent and vital to the communities surrounding them. These sites powerfully demonstrate pressing global challenges of climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from the crisis, underscoring the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them. Lamanai is an archaeological site whose physical attributes represent diverse and contested histories of the Maya, Spanish, Chinese and British descendants in Belize, functioning as an ‘outdoor classroom’ where local and international tourists can interact with the monuments and buildings of Belize’s historical past.
The site is as socially significant today as it was 3,000 years ago, due in part to its longevity, its association with historical events and their memory in the present, its symbolism for descendants, indigenous and migrant groups, and its contribution to nation-building. A sustainable future for Lamanai is contingent upon progressive collaboration and balancing management, tourism, natural and cultural resource protection, cultural memory, and community quality of life. Launched in 1996 with founding sponsor American Express, the Watch is announced every two years and includes heritage places nominated by individuals and community-based organizations across the globe. The program has been a proven tool for raising awareness of sites in need of protection and galvanizing action and support for their preservation.
“Saving irreplaceable cultural heritage has never been more important,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of WMF. “The daunting global challenges facing heritage in the twenty-first century require innovative, sustainable, and replicable solutions. By supporting communities in preserving the places they treasure most, we can strengthen social bonds and foster a greater understanding that our futures as global citizens are inextricably linked.”
To date, WMF has contributed more than $110 million toward projects at more than 300 Watch sites, with the visibility provided by the Watch helping communities leverage an additional $300 million from other sources. Heritage Education Network Belize believes that “Culture and heritage are holistic concepts, holding salience in every aspect of life. We are dedicated to the power of these concepts by strengthening ties and communication between the many stakeholders of Belize’s culture and heritage to ensure accurate representation and sustainable social, environmental, and economic development.”