University of Malta

4th Workshop of the IUCN Delos Initiative
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The Institute of Earth Systems hosted the fourth workshop of the Delos Initiative of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) between 24 and 26 April 2017. The Delos Initiative on sacred natural sites in technologically developed countries was launched in 2004; it is jointly coordinated by Thymio Papayannis, director of the Mediterranean Institute for Nature and Anthropos (MedINA) and Josep-Maria Mallarach of the Silene Association, within the Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. The event, held at the Franciscan Porziuncola Retreat House, brought together participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Indonesia, Kyrgystan, Lebanon, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Africa, and Turkey. A number of the Institute's third year B.Sc. (Hons) Earth Systems students also participated as observers.

Panel speakers at workshop's opening session 

H.G. Mons. Charles Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta (second from left) addressing the opening session of the workshop. Prof. Victor Axiak (first from left), Chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority, Imam Mohamed El Sadi (far right), and Prof. Louis F Cassar (second from right), Director of the Institute of Earth Systems, also addressed participants.

Group shot of workshop participants 

 Delos Workshop participants

The Delos Initiative has the main aim of contributing to better management of sacred natural sites, to ensure maintenance of their natural, cultural, and spiritual values. Through presentation and critical analysis of case studies from across the world, the Initiative seeks to draw insights and identify best practices for integrating spiritual dimensions into the management of natural sites. Three prior workshops have been organised, in Spain, Greece, and Finland. The focus of these was on protected areas and spirituality, the sacred dimension of protected areas, and the diversity of sacred lands in Europe. This fourth workshop focused on sacred natural sites related to Islam and on sites that are relevant to more than one living religion. The outputs of the workshop include the official Statement of the Delos4 Workshop, available here, and will be further reflected in updated IUCN Guidelines on Sacred Natural Sites, to be published in the future. The workshop proceedings will also be made available electronically and in print in due course.

The event was also supported by the Faculty of Theology of the University of Malta.

 Workshop field visit to the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra complex

 Workshop field visit to the Haġar Qim and Mnajdra complex, led by Dr Reuben Grima (Faculty for the Built Environment) 

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