The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage

The National Research Institute of Maritime Cultural Heritage (NRIMCH), Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA), is pleased to welcome you to the Fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage to be celebrated in Gwangju, Korea, November 13 – 18, 2023.

Conference Information is downloadable below!

Final APCONF 2023 Program (updated 7 November 2023)

Conference Paper Abstracts

 Conference Guidebook

Proceedings for the 2023 APCONF


Conference Theme:

The Ocean Decade Challenges and the Maritime Cultural Heritage of Asia-Pacific

We are very pleased to announce that the 5th Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage (APConf 5) will take place in Korea in November 2023. The conference theme mirrors worldwide efforts to discuss current environmental challenges, in the hope that a look into the past may open a window for the future. To do this, the APConf 5 will have as its main theme the  United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), a framework to deliver solutions orientated to support a well-functioning ocean. We share previous voices pointing to underwater cultural heritage as an essential asset to reach the 7 Ocean Decade Outcomes for the Ocean We Want: a clean ocean, a healthy and resilient ocean, a productive ocean, a predicted ocean, a safe ocean, an accessible ocean and an inspiring and engaging ocean. 

The Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage aims to further advance our knowledge on the region’s maritime heritage, and address management and protection strategies of underwater cultural heritage in Asia and the countries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It also aims to foster discussion on the UNESCO 2001 Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage and its ratification, and the application of the Convention’s Annex for the protection of the world’s Underwater Cultural Heritage.  

The APConf 5 champions the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge of local communities and highlights the value of underwater cultural heritage to address major threats, such as climate change.  We think that by understanding the past we can help to develop strategies and solutions for a sustainable ocean. Likewise, due to the effects of climate change in marine and riverine ecologies, maritime cultural heritage is currently under threat. The future of our environment is therefore inextricably linked to the future of maritime cultural heritage and vice versa. Maritime cultural heritage and underwater archaeology can provide the science and support that the Decade of Ocean Science needs, by ensuring that the anthropological value of the oceans is understood, and recognizing that the cultural heritage lying at the bottom of the oceans and in our eroding coasts can be the key for change in humanity’s future relationship with the ocean. 

Aside from other themes on maritime and underwater archaeology, the APConf 5 aims to explore how underwater cultural heritage and maritime cultural heritage can optimally contribute to achieving the goal of SDG 14, Life Below Water: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” To that effect, we are particularly interested in receiving panel proposals that touch on this topic. We also aim to host panels that focus on research and advancing our knowledge of the region’s maritime past, with a special interest in interdisciplinary panels that seek to combine traditional ecological knowledge and the study of the past. A wide range of people involved in underwater cultural heritage are thus encouraged to present and attend, including those from universities, government agencies, museums, NGOs, IGOs, the private sector and the community. 

This conference follows the successes of the Inaugural Asian Academy for Heritage Management Asia-Pacific Regional Conference hosted by the National Museum of the Philippines in November of 2011, the 2nd Regional Conference hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the University of Hawaii Marine Option Program (2014), the 3rd Regional Conference hosted by the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (2017) and the 4th Regional Conference hosted by The Bureau of Cultural Heritage (Taiwan), National Taiwan Ocean University, and the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology (Taiwan) (2021).

More background on the sub-themes and session proposals can be found here.


“Like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for updates!