THANOS magazine

July 5, 2023

Networking, education
and cultural experience

Summary of the FIAT-IFTA Annual Meeting 2023 in Varna


The 52nd FIAT-IFTA I.C.D. Annual Meeting 2023, hosted by the Union of the Funeral Companies in Bulgaria on the occasion of their 30th anniversary of the establishment of the organization,
was held in Varna from June 7 to 9. The meeting served as a platform for integration, knowledge sharing, and experience exchange among FIAT-IFTA members, fostering international collaboration. Additionally, the visit to Bulgaria provided a remarkable chance to immerse oneself in Bulgarian culture, traditions, and hospitality, offering a unique glimpse into the local way of life.

The vibrant city of Varna played host to a significant annual gathering and conference, drawing approximately 300 attendees from FIAT-IFTA member companies across Europe and various corners of the globe as well as members from the Bulgarian Association. The event boasted an impressive international representation, with participants from many countries. Among the diverse nations represented were Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Mauritania, Poland, Romania, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, UK, Ukraine, USA,
and others.

At this year's Annual Meeting, the primary focus revolved around crucial organizational matters. Attendees engaged in discussions encompassing various significant topics, including a comprehensive review of the board of directors' activities over the preceding 12 months, an examination of the organization's financial statements for 2022, and the presentation of the budget for 2023.
Additionally, the meeting involved the evaluation and approval of membership applications from prospective Associate, Active, and National Members. Another noteworthy highlight was the discussion concerning amendments to the organization's constitution, a process that will continue with direct communication to FIAT-IFTA members. Ultimately, the proposed constitutional changes will be put to a vote at the forthcoming I.C.D. Meeting in 2024. Addressing this matter holds paramount significance, as it aims to align the document with contemporary times and accommodate the structural transformations that have occurred within the organization in recent years.


During the I.C.D. Meeting, also the work of the FIAT-IFTA Funeral Heritage Steering Committee was presented and once again all FIAT-IFTA members were invited to share their knowledge of intangible funerary heritage in their countries in the Funeral Heritage Report 2024. Much attention was also given to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO's Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage adopted on October 17, 2003. As a proud UNESCO-accredited NGO, FIAT-IFTA took part in this celebration. We renewed our commitment to safeguard Intangible Cultural Heritage as an intrinsic part of the bereavement process, and therefore an inherent aspect of our work.

The Assembly also approved the transformation of the FIAT-IFTA Funeral Exchange Program into the FIAT-IFTA Global Education Program and the establishment of an education committee. Under this new program, the inaugural educational activity will be a supervised practical embalming workshop in Barcelona, scheduled to take place from October 10th to October 13th, 2023. This workshop, organized by SORTEM in collaboration with FIAT-IFTA and ALTIMA, a funeral services company, aims to provide hands-on training and expertise. More information about this workshop can be found at
Furthermore, an upcoming webinar focused on the Transportation of Mortal Remains by air will be organized by IATA this September, serving as a significant training event. FIAT-IFTA members will receive information regarding this webinar via email. It is noteworthy that IATA generously offers
FIAT-IFTA members a 30% discount for the IATA Compassionate Transportation Manual (CTM) 2023. Further details about this offer can be found on


FIAT-IFTA Conference 2023 addressed digital solutions tailored for the funeral industry, Bulgarian funeral customs and sustainable practices in the funeral industry and thanatopraxy in particular the use of formaldehyde thanks to the illuminating presentations of Ms. Nuria Capdevila and Mr. Craig L Caldwell. An interesting perspective was provided also by a panel discussion on “Thanatopraxis and Sustainability” expertly moderated by Mr Gus Nichols from Ireland. Panelists included Mr. Craig L. Caldwell from the UK, Ms. Mylena Cooper from Brazil, Mr. Antton Loinaz from Spain, and Mr. Dominic Vernhes from France, offering diverse perspectives and insights on the subject matter.

Representatives of funeral companies from all over the world also participated in technical visit to the Varna Crematorium and toured the Varna Archaeological Museum, showcasing rich collections related to funerary culture and the Varna Gold Treasure, visited the beautiful "Dormition of the Mother of God" Cathedral, which is a symbol of the city, and took a trip back in time with the Retro Museum, which contains exhibits from the period 1944-1989 that tell in artefacts how Bulgarians lived under socialism.


The evening Gala Dinner was an opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Union of the Funeral Companies in Bulgaria. The sponsors, thanks to whom a fantastic meeting in Varna took place at a very high level, were also honored. The evening event was also a fantastic opportunity to enjoy an excellent folklore performance presenting the music and folk dances of Bulgaria.

In 2024 we meet again at the 17th FIAT-IFTA Convention and 53rd I.C.D. Annual Meeting
of FIAT-IFTA in Krakow, Poland. The meeting will take place on 18-20 September 2024 in CKF_13 Fabryczna Conference Center. Save the date in your diaries! We are looking forward to seeing you!

We cordially invite all funeral companies to join the FIAT-IFTA - The World Organization of Funeral Operatives - /

Photo: UFCB Press Service/deyanstoevphotography
Photo: Katarzyna Supa

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