The philosophy: Preserving Culture and Environment

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The philosophy: Preserving Culture and Environment

Cultural and environmental heritage is a two-way process between past, (present) and future. It is about the harmony between the integration of tradition and modernity. The capacity of appreciating cultural heritage or of being “surprised” and marveling at others is a key instrument in understanding different cultures. It is the key to tolerance and multiplicity. Cultural heritage contributes to establishing and maintaining peace between people. Similarly, the capacity of appreciating environmental heritage or of “being” surprised and marveling at Nature is one of the instruments to understand the environment we live in. It is the key to protecting natural resources and beauties. Environmental heritage contributes to the establishment of sustainable production systems that respect and protect the environment. Cultural and environmental heritages have therefore become complex and fragile realities that play important roles in the development of societies.

For millennia, Ethiopia was an inaccessible highland that has cultivated fascinating cultural jewels that can surprise and inspire the world. Ethiopian heritage goes far beyond the 7 sites registered by UNESCO , but its architecture, natural beauties, wildlife as well as intangible cultural heritage such as music, history, legend, poetry, religion and sense of sincere hospitality are unique in the world. Yet, as in any other places in the world, the very essence of Ethiopian culture and tradition are being gradually abandoned for what are locally perceived as “modern ways” of life.

Ethiopia, was, for millions of years, an isolated highland surrounded by vast stretches of dry-land and deserts where plants, insects and wildlife have evolved away from the rest of the planet. Ethiopia is an exceptional centre of plant and wildlife bio-diversity. Coffee (coffea arabica), enset (Ensete ventricosum) or teff (Eragrostis teff) are only a few of the best known indigenous species that have evolved over millions of years on the Ethiopian highlands. However, Ethiopia's environmental and agricultural heritage is being severely damaged. Once covered with thick forests, most of the Ethiopian Highlands are now barren. Unique environmental resources are “eroding” away and urgently need to be preserved. In Ethiopia, over 85 per cent of the population relies directly on the country's natural resource base to meet their daily needs. The Livelihood of millions of rural Ethiopians and their future economic opportunities depends on today’s natural resources protection and rehabilitation. Conducting economic and development activities while respecting nature can provide some guidance for sound economic development.

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