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Joint Nordic nomination to UNESCO seeks to safeguard clinkerboat traditions

Finland is participating in the joint Nordic application for the inscription of the clinker boat tradition on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Finnish wooden boat enthusiasts joined forces for this first ever joint Nordic UNESCO application, which was supported by 19 communities that work with wooden boats in Finland. Altogether 125 letters of consent were sent to UNESCO.

All the Nordic countries, including the Åland Islands and Faroe Islands, are participating in the application. Minister of Science and Culture Hanna Kosonen has approved the application on Finland’s behalf. This is a demonstration of Finland’s wish to emphasise the significance of the Nordic clinker boat tradition and support the passing on and safeguarding of the tradition as well as the work carried out by its practitioners to promote it. Participation in the joint Nordic application gives recognition to the Nordic handicraft tradition and the safeguarding of the wooden boat tradition in the northern regions.

A wooden clinker boat is a special type of Nordic boat that has also been built in Finland for thousands of years. Wooden boats have been of great significance in all Nordic countries, uniting people from coast to coast for generations. The clinker boat tradition is a key part of Finnish and Nordic cultural heritage and coastal culture.

In Finland, promotion of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is the responsibility of the Finnish Heritage Agency, which has coordinated the application process together with communities in the field. ‘The work on the application has brought actors together to develop the field both in Finland and at the Nordic level,’ says Bosse Mellberg, an active advocate of wooden boats who coordinated the application process on behalf of communities.

Building and sailing wooden clinker boats was already chosen for inscription on the National Inventory of Living Heritage in 2017 by decision of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The decision on approving the UNESCO application will be made in December 2021 by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Finland’s first national application for inscription on UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage concerns sauna culture in Finland, on which a decision will be made in December 2020. This year, Finland is also applying for the inscription of the Kaustinen fiddle tradition. A decision will be made on both the Kaustinen fiddle tradition and the clinker boat tradition in late 2021.

For more information, please contact:

Senior Advisor Leena Marsio, Finnish Heritage Agency leena.marsio(at)museovirasto.fi +358 29533 6017
Coordinator of the clinker boat initiative Bosse Mellberg mellbergbosse(at)gmail.com +358 40 564 3975