"We have 10 to 15 years left to transfer available audiovisual recordings to digital media and prevent their loss. We need to join forces to change the situation – for it is of the utmost importance that this recent history be understood and shared not only for issues of identity and affiliation but also for a clearer grasp of relationships and challenges in contemporary societies."
Director-General of UNESCO
Nobel Peace Prize Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a press conference in 1985 after addressing the Special Political Committee where he denounced the Apartheid regime in South Africa. UN Photo/Yutaka Nagata
2015 Theme: Archives at Risk: Protecting the World's Identities
Audiovisual documents, such as films, radio and television programmes, are our common heritage and contain the primary records of the 20th and 21st centuries. They help to maintain the cultural identity of a people; but countless documentary treasures have disappeared since the invention of image and sound technologies that permit the peoples of the world to better share their experiences, creativity and knowledge.
All of the world's audiovisual heritage is endangered. Nowhere can it be said to be preserved, but through initiatives such as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and the Memory of the World Programme, the precious work of preservation professionals is given impetus to manage a range of technical, political, social, financial and other factors that threaten the safeguarding of our heritage.
It was in this context, that the General Conference in 2005 approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken and to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity.