Project Factsheet
Tools for » Heritage for Social and Economic Development
Project ID:00067185Description:MDGF-1805-G-ALB Culture
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 2 Nov 2007
MDGF Culture & Development
End Date*: 6 Dec 2011
Country: Albania Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The Joint Programme on Culture and Heritage for Social and Economic Development aims at boosting the country’s social and economic development through its rich culture and heritage. It demonstrates how culture can be used as a tool for sustainable development, and conversely, how such development can be used as a catalyst for culture. Harnessing the potential of Albania’s cultural heritage offers opportunities for Albania to strengthen its national identity, create economic opportunities for poor and rural communities, enhance investment, and position itself positively in Europe and the rest of the world. Albania’s rich, unique, and storied culture offers many opportunities to positively transform the country by weaving culture into the fabric of society – from economic development, to diplomacy, to education and everyday life of its citizens.

Albania’s cultural richness though is in stark contrast with its economic and human development situation. The country has made significant progress towards its integration with the European Union; however poverty remains an important issue despite significant income growth and improvements in some development indicators. Some indicators suggest progress over time in key areas such as absolute poverty, child mortality, maternal health, and youth and young female literacy. However, there continues to be a broad disparity in MDG attainment between urban and rural areas. Income distribution continues to worsen, particularly the difference between urban and rural areas.

The Joint Programme focuses in particular on such transformative activities as: the conversion of the National History Museum into a modern cultural institution; protection of and access to two of the country’s most important archaeological parks, Apollonia and Antigonea; strengthening the capacities of state employees and other cultural professionals to manage, preserve and present Albania’s cultural heritage; demonstrating the viability of new economic opportunities through cultural tourism in Gjirokastra and Berat; strengthening of national policies to safeguard Albania’s cultural heritage; and developing new national capacities to promote a more accurate image of Albania’s culture abroad.


Outcome 1:

A transparent and accountable government, developing and implementing effective national policies on culture and cultural-related issues.

Outcome achievements:

  • The JP was extensively engaged in legislative work on intangible heritage and its incorporation into the National Culture Strategy which has been completed and awaits governmental approval. The Programme provided the Government with clear policy recommendations in terms of fiscal interventions in order to strengthen the cultural heritage and tourism sectors. MoTCYS was supported in its effort to implement the two UNESCO Conventions (2003 and 2005) through a series of activities like: two National Conferences related to the Iso-Polyphony and the future trends of the Intangible Heritage Development, support to a number of cultural related institutions to best perform their mission to protect and safeguard the cultural heritage. Although the architecture competition did not have a good number of entries, the experience gathered by the Institute of Monuments of Culture and the Competition documentation produced is a good basis for future endeavors.


Outcome 2:

An enabling environment is in place to ensure people’s access to cultural heritage and participation in cultural heritage decision making at the local, regional and national levels.

Outcome achievements:

  • The transitional governance and management structure elaborated for NHM management as well as the physical works carried out for the reconstruction of the Ethnographic Pavilion and the renovation of the Conference room laid the foundation for the transformation of the National History Museum (NHM) into a modern cultural institution with international standards. The reconstruction of the Ethnographic Pavilion of the NHM is aimed at providing a model for similar renovation in the rest of the NHM and/or other cultural institutions in Albania. The JP team is ensuring the quality of the intervention and the consensus around the new pavilion is such that the sustainability of this component is ensured. The NHM main Conference room has been renovated and converted into multipurpose-enabled conference and educational facilities. It is an asset for the NHM to start implementing a number of recommendations of the NHM Advisory Board regarding the fiscal management as well as financial management of the NHM with a view to making it self-sustainable. Albania's archaeological park system has been upgraded to better safeguard Albania's cultural heritage and ensure environmental sustainability, but further visible Government action is needed. A key strategic document provided has been the study on fiscal management and governance of the archaeological park system in Albania. The Albanian film archives have been effectively upgraded and national films preserved for future generations via digitalization and increased storage capacity at the responsible institution.


Outcome 3:

Increased capacities to manage, preserve and present cultural heritage and cultural industries in an efficient, transparent, accountable and equitable manner.

Outcome achievements:

  • The objective of improving the skills level of staff employed in museums and archaeological parks in cultural heritage management, conservation and protection has been fully achieved. The various training activities, study tours and other events in this sub-component have resulted in an increased understanding and competence as concerns modern ways of cultural heritage management, presentation, conservation and protection, as well as the communication and education function. There appears to be a high degree of enthusiasm to put the newly gained knowledge into practice, but rapid adoption of change and the fiscal management process for the NHM and the archaeological parks is required. The objective of providing formal training and credentials available to cultural professionals is fully achieved. The fully accredited Master’s Program on Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is running smoothly in its second year, coordinated by a highly motivated team at Tirana University. The number of students/candidates applying to be admitted to the MA program in the academic year 2011-2012 clearly reveals the growing interest for this program which received full JP support for the premises upgrade, the library with around 2000 relevant book titles, the field trip to Greece, the scholarship program etc. The tour guide Master’s course has benefitted from a newly developed, up-to-the standard academic curriculum and the establishment of a resource centr with over 50 key books.


Outcome 4:

An increased role of cultural heritage in social and economic opportunities and in engaging community participation in regional and local development strategies.

Outcome achievements:

  • The improvement of the quality of visitor experience at cultural heritage sites has been successfully achieved. The upgrade of tourism facilities and information services has been fully completed in the cities of Berat and Gjirokastra. Tourist information materials for the archaeological parks of Apollonia and Antigonea, Gjirokastra (WHS) and Berati (WHS) were produced (map guides, audio-guides in Albanian and foreign languages). The Archaeological Museum of Apollonia was renovated and reopened to the public in December 2011. Support for Albanian artists in accessing new markets has been fully addressed. The artisan incubator in Gjirokastra provides a model for innovative promotion of artisan education and artisan works. The incubator planned in Shkoder did not materialize due to unexpected events pertaining to the only venue recommended by the Government. However, the Gjirokastra model can be replicated elsewhere in the country. The training component has also been successfully achieved with more than 30 artisans who have received training on product development. More than 75% of the trained artisans are women.


Outcome 5:

A contribution to the National Strategy of the Alliance of Civilization (AoC) and an increased awareness of Albania’s cultural heritage internationally as a means to promote cultural understanding and religious tolerance.

Outcome achievements:

  • The objective of increased participation of Albania in global dialogue for cross cultural and religious understanding has been achieved and has resulted in an increased awareness as concerns cross-cultural understanding and religious tolerance. Albania’s implementation of the AoC strategy has been effectively supported and has influenced the quality of opinion expressed by the Albanian media. The rich AoC documentation has been published and uploaded in the website of the National Commission for UNESCO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).  Public access to this information will support MoFA’s sustainability efforts. The JP has successfully assisted the Government in the preparation of a very comprehensive cultural marketing strategy as a sound basis for increasing Albania’s international recognition in respect of culture and cultural heritage. The cultural marketing strategy has a strong focus on immediate implementation with its first annual work plan for 2012 addressing direct support to the “2012 Visit Albania” promotion campaign. This component needs further Government and donor support to be implemented. Similarly, the cultural diplomacy strategy is ready to be adopted, whereas the training for cultural attachés has been successfully completed. Further Government and donor support is also needed for an immediate impact in promoting Albania internationally.


Lessons learned:

  • Participating in the MDG-F Joint Programme, “Culture and Heritage for Social and Economic Development” proved to be a very positive experience for both agencies.  The Government fully owned the Joint Programme and steered its implementation according to national priorities. An ongoing dialogue was maintained with the Government and the National Commission for UNESCO throughout all stages of decision-making and implementation of activities, in order to ensure continued national ownership over any policy changes that were being generated by the JP.
  • UNESCO and UNDP experts worked closely together on technical issues related to the activities of the Joint Programme, contributing to more sound conclusions and decisions on specific activities and have used each other's expertise/consultants. Representatives of participating agencies sat in respective evaluation panels set up on several issues and UNESCO was able to take advantage of UNDP country-level procurement systems to speed up activities and benefit from VAT exemptions.


More details can be found in the final project report:

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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Albania or the lead agency for the programme.

The person with GATEWAY access rights to upload and maintain documents for the programme:

  • Fioralba Shkodra, UN Coordination Specialist; Telephone: 00355 4 2276 648; Email:; Skype: fioralba.shkodra
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