The World Heritage Futures Lab: Southern and Eastern Africa Edition is a joint UNESCO-Electric South initiative organised as part of the Next50, a year-long interdisciplinary reflection on the future of World Heritage. It is being implemented in cooperation with national authorities from participating countries in charge of arts, culture, and heritage, National Commissions for UNESCO, WHIPIC and AWHF. The first phase of the initiative consisted of a three-day, in-person, ideas-development Lab held in Windhoek, Namibia from 25 – 27 January 2023 to strengthen the capacities of 20 creative technologists and local community representatives from 11 countries in interpreting World Heritage values, and in developing digital products using immersive technologies including virtual and augmented reality to showcase new narratives of World Heritage sites in the two regions.
The first phase culminated with the pitching of 10 project proposals developed during the lab by the teams, who represented Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The feedback from participants who participated in the lab was overwhelmingly positive, with many wanting to take their projects into the next phase, which will include grant funding for the production and distribution of the completed projects under phase 2 of the initiative.