Cultural heritage is often associated with grandiose monuments and iconic archaeological sites that can be in awe of their beauty, history and sheer scale. However, the understanding of cultural heritage has undergone a marked shift during last few decades in terms of what it is,why it is important, and why it is a drive to sustainable development.

Cultural heritage today encompasses a broader array of places such as historical sites, cultural landscapes, gardens or sacred forests and monuments, technological or industrial sites and even sites associated with painful memories and wars. Collections of movable and immovable items within sites,museums, historic properties and archives with reasonable significant in scope and with testimonies not only in the lifestyles of royalty and the achievements of great artists, but also to the everyday lives of ordinary people. At the same time intangibles such as knowledge, beliefs and value systems are fundamental aspects of heritage that have a powerful influence on people’s daily and behaviours.

Cultural heritage is increasingly recognized as a driver of resilience that can support efforts to reduce disaster risks more broadly, greater emphasis and commitment have been put in place by the people in custody of these heritage to protect and leverage it for resilience and for sustainable development, example is Osun Osogbo sacred Grove under the custody of National Museum Osogbo, lots of activities and renovations carried out day in day out to make sure the cultural heritage maintain their potential in sustainable development.
Heritage is not a relic of the past, but is increasingly instrumental in steering sustainable development and the wellbeing of communities especially where they were located. The community depends directly on ecosystems for their livelihoods, economic, social and physical wellbeing.

Certainly, the safeguarding of cherished cultural heritage sites and the ensemble  intangible cultural expressions, knowledge and skills that collectively define a community can be considered in itself a contribution to human wellbeing. Cultural heritage, however also make a direct and significant contribution to social and environmental dimensions. Cultural heritage is also a powerful asset for inclusive economic development,by attracting investments in promoting green, locally based, stable and decent jobs related to a wide range of sustainable activities in areas such as tourism, conservation, construction, food production, indigenous fabrics, and the production of crafts and arts of all kinds.
However, heritage is exposed to a number of threats especially in Nigeria,from urbanization, development pressures,socio- economic transformations, unsustainable tourism and lack of resources. The impact of disasters on heritage can be severe at times and indeed,more cultural heritage is lost in disasters than it’s ever fully accounted.
In conclusion, cultural heritage appears to be closely connected to the fundamental components of an inclusive social development. As a vehicle to express values and identity and organize communities and their relationships through its powerful symbolic and aesthetic dimensions, cultural heritage is essential to the spiritual wellbeing of people. The acknowledgement and conservation of the diversity of cultural heritage, fair access to it and equitable sharing of the benefits deriving from it’s use enhance the feeling of place of belonging, mutual respect and sense of collective purpose and ability to maintain a common good, which has the potential to contribute to the social cohesion of a community, reduce inequalities and promote sustainable development.

Adedokun Adebola Feyikemi, Chief Museum Education Officer, National Museum Osogbo.


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