Heritage & Communities: tools to engage local communities
Involving local communities in the management, presentation and promotion of a city's cultural heritage is not always a simple and obvious process for municipalities. As a reminder, in the last decades of the twentieth century, community involvement was often achieved through education rather than cooperation, but since 2007, it is recognised as the fifth “C” of the Strategic Objectives (“C” for communities) of the World Heritage Committee(1).
However, the 21st century has seen the rise of urban occupation by human populations and a proliferation of properties’ inscriptions on the World Heritage List in urban areas now encompassing an unprecedented number of 1600(2) including parts of cities, townships and villages.
In 2017 it has become unthinkable not to take into account the views of local people in the mechanisms to be adopted to conserve and manage the urban heritage or properties present in the urban territory of a city as highlighted in the UNESCO Global Report “Culture: Urban Future”(3) and as indicated in the New Urban Agenda(4).
This observation is due to the fact that this "UNESCO specificity" provides an additional level of engagement to be respected in order to ensure the Outstanding Universal Value which defines a part of the urban heritage. Consequently, seeing Culture as an enabler for the Local Sustainable Development of a city has an obvious and direct impact on the daily lives of the inhabitants of the concerned neighbourhoods.
A major question, then, is what participatory roles can be given to the local communities to assist the municipalities in their obligations? A secondary question is how can this participation be implemented effectively, in the context of World Heritage Cities?
To this the OWHC will provide insights through a multi-day scientific programme which will put at the heart of the debates its own community composed of mayors, elected municipal officials and local heritage experts.
The flagship event will be a day devoted entirely to tools and precedents that have proved their worth in the involvement of local communities. As in 2015, these tools will come from the cities of the OWHC and will be presented by their own designers.
The second important event will be the Mayors' workshop dedicated to mayors and municipal officials. The latter will be a direct continuation of the Scientific Day and will focus on the use of the "UNESCO label" as a tool for sustainable and local socio-economic development that benefits the inhabitants.
In parallel, a poster exhibition will be present throughout the entire Congress and the Jean-Paul-L'Allier Prize will award this year a project with a strong component linked to local communities.
- In 2007, the World Heritage Committee revised its Strategic Objectives (Decision 31 COM 13B) based on the Budapest Declaration on World Heritage adopted in 2002 during the 26th session of the Committee.
Operational Guidelines, paragraph 26 (5)
Operational Guidelines, paragraph 211
- Ana Pereira Roders et al., Human Settlements Managing World Heritage, Results of a Global Survey (1978-2015), Eindhoven University of Technology, 2015, p.3
- Culture: Urban Future, Recommendation 3.3
- New Urban Agenda, paragraph 12