Sustainable Developments Vol. 24 No. 1

Sustainable Developments

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The Cultural Site Management Workshop, co-sponsored by the World Bank Institute and the World Bank’s Culture and Development Anchor, began on Monday, 26 April 1999 at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. Following introductions and opening remarks, participants heard presentations on specific cultural heritage sites and engaged in a general discussion on natural and cultural attributes of cultural site management (CSM).


Workshop Facilitator Peter Auer, Curriculum Development Specialist, World Bank Institute (WBI), opened the workshop, welcoming participants and expressing satisfaction at the considerable collective expertise of those present.

Gloria Davis, Director, Social Development Family, Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development (ESSD), World Bank, discussed the Bank’s efforts to examine the impact of its policies on people and society, as well as the impact of people and society on development projects. She noted that the concept of development is being broadened to include explicitly social objectives, particularly poverty reduction and inclusion of socially marginalized groups. She observed that when the Bank began work on culture and development, it focused on heritage in general, but the concept is being continuously refined to incorporate the role culture plays in development. She explained that the role of the Bank is to cooperate with communities whose heritage is affected in designing and implementing culture and development projects that not only benefit tourists but also empower local people, contribute to economic development and reduce poverty.

Kreszentia (Tia) Duer, Leader, Culture and Sustainable Development Program, Special Programs/ESSD, World Bank, described the Culture and Sustainable Development Program. Noting that this is a recent area of activity for the Bank, she emphasized the importance of quality CSM in ensuring that projects do not introduce pressures that might degrade a site. The Bank’s role in this process is to bring together stakeholders and encourage CSM planning that involves local communities and employs a holistic perspective. The Bank’s comparative advantage is its experience in large-scale, complex development programs as well as its access to government ministers and other high-level decision makers. She noted that the Bank’s program will be at the cutting edge of the development process and that its aim is to establish ongoing participation and communication between relevant groups and individuals.

Dennis Mahar, Manager, Environment and Natural Resources Group, WBI, explained WBI’s involvement in training and capacity building, highlighting its consultation with local populations on projects. He noted that WBI is just beginning work in the area of CSM, and thus the Workshop’s findings will be extremely valuable in guiding its future work.

Arlene Fleming, Cultural Resource Specialist, World Bank, emphasized the timeliness and importance of CSM in this first wave of the Bank’s culture and development projects. In response to numerous requests for Bank assistance with CSM, the workshop was conceived to bring together CSM experts, people working on sites from client countries, and Bank personnel working on cultural heritage projects to ascertain how to create the most successful project components in site management.

She outlined the objectives of the Workshop, which are to: identify issues, challenges and problems associated with CSM; ascertain strategies for CSM; identify strategy implications for specific Bank-financed projects with CSM components; formulate an action plan for each CSM component of a Bank-financed project; draft a curriculum outline for a CSM educational program to be made available world-wide; identify financial issues in CSM preparatory to a working group at the October 1999 Florence Conference on financing cultural heritage conservation; and initiate an international network of CSM personnel. She explained that the Workshop would be organized into four topical sessions: natural and cultural attributes of sites (including environment, land use and zoning, and conservation); the site locale (including community participation, security and infrastructure); authority structure and financial support (including ownership/regulation/incentives, managerial authority structure and financial support); and usage of sites (including tourism, interpretation and education).

Participants divided into small discussion groups to identify issues and questions for consideration by the Workshop, which they then presented to the group as a whole. These addressed, inter alia: the nature of the Bank’s relationship with outside partners and how they can help improve the impact at sites; the uneven geographical distribution of current Bank contributions to cultural heritage management projects; best examples of private-public partnerships; how cultural sites should be managed in conflict situations; the Bank’s progress in developing a methodology for evaluating and costing cultural site assets; and how an effective link can be established between income generated from tourism and site preservation.

Tia Duer responded to some of these questions. On relationships between the Bank and other organizations, she said partnerships are critical to the Culture and Sustainable Development Program, with current efforts focusing on networking with relevant groups and developing fledgling partnerships. Current inequalities in regional distribution will soon be resolved now that the Bank’s Board of Directors has endorsed further development of this area. Participants discussed development of a methodology for evaluating and costing cultural site assets, which was acknowledged to be in its infancy. It was noted that a costing methodology for Stonehenge had been developed.


SITE PRESENTATIONS: Giovanni Boccardi, UNESCO Program Specialist for Culture, made a presentation on the Baptism Site on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, where remains of a monastery, church and ancient hermits’ caves were identified. Plans are now being prepared to develop the site for tourists. The site now exists in a pristine natural environment but will be visited by millions of pilgrims, and the challenge is how to develop the site without altering its character. Mr. Boccardi also presented on the Umm Qais site in northern Jordan, site of the ancient city of Gadara and a 19th century Ottoman village. The government is now faced with options for its exploitation, including the return of the previously resettled villagers, or sale to a large investor for a five-star hotel development, and must evaluate what the most appropriate model of development for this site would be.

Naomi Miller, Senior Research Scientist, University of Pennsylvania, discussed environmental issues in site management at Gordion in central Anatolia, Turkey, an important site dating from the late second millenium BC. She discussed the effects of changes in vegetation and said erosion has posed threats to burial mounds such as the Midas Tumulus. She noted that a revegetation project is underway, and although it is mitigating some of the effects of erosion, it raises many questions, including how much intervention is necessary or desirable and whether previous vegetation should be re-established and, if so, from which period. She concluded that effective site management should take a wider perspective that considers the environmental setting as well as the site itself.

Nicholas Stanley-Price, Professor, University College, London, emphasized that there are values beyond a cultural heritage site’s historical significance to consider when formulating plans for its preservation. He noted a divergence in the past between natural and cultural heritage, often due to different government ministries being responsible for each. This separation is increasingly recognized as arbitrary, as areas preserved for their natural value often encompass well-preserved archaeological sites and vice versa. He presented the case of the Coa Valley Archaeological Park in northern Portugal, where Paleolithic rock engravings were found on the banks of the River Douro while the area was being surveyed for construction of a hydroelectric dam. Following protests against the potential loss of these sites to flooding, the dam was canceled and an archaeological park created. The problem was how to preserve the area, in a rarely visited and relatively pristine natural environment, while also responding to the public's interest in visiting the relics. He outlined efforts to balance these interests, such as strict limits on the number of visitors, and initiatives to diversify the area’s economy to enable local people to benefit from the park.

Zoraida Demori-Stanicic, Conservation Department, Ministry of Culture, Croatia, made a presentation on the Salona archaeological site, the largest site on the Croatian coast. Describing the ancient settlement’s development, she outlined problems facing the site, including: its proximity to the town of Solin, which has infringed on the site due to urbanization and infrastructure and industrial development; the considerable distance between the site and its museum; and the absence of a connection between the site and the local community. She outlined a plan to protect the site’s archaeological and cultural heritage, present the site more effectively and improve information for tourist and educational purposes. She stressed the importance of establishing a bond between the archaeological site and the local community.

Tia Duer made a presentation on the Butrint site in southern Albania. She explained that the challenge is ascertaining how to bring tourism into the area without irreparably degrading its pristine natural setting, given shifting government interests in developing mass tourism, corruption and vested interests, the local population’s interests in maintaining its tranquility, the need to incorporate conservation set-asides and heritage areas, and questions of how to stem expansion of a nearby town.

GENERAL DISCUSSION: Participants then engaged in a Plenary discussion, raising questions and issues relating to natural and cultural attributes of sites, including: conflict between different values and the importance of effective decision-making tools; site ownership and who determines ownership; emphasis on a holistic approach that considers the wider environment within which sites are located; and the importance of dialogue, advocacy and awareness-raising. In discussing key principles, one participant emphasized that CSM planning should: assess and recognize a site’s natural and cultural values by conducting an assessment of its significance at the outset; adopt a formal holistic assessment process that involves all relevant stakeholders; use the assessment to guide management decisions; and recognize time and budget considerations. Participants said one option that may arise from a significance assessment is that it is preferable to leave the site alone. The moral correctness of relocating people or materials from a site was questioned and the importance of public involvement emphasized.

One participant asked how the Bank would respond to a government request for assistance in an infrastructure development project that could potentially threaten a cultural heritage site. World Bank representatives explained that environmental assessments are required during the planning phase for projects seeking Bank support and that this assessment takes into account cultural assets. It was noted that the petitioning government, not the Bank, would have to fund the assessment, as the ownership of such an assessment must belong to the government.

One speaker explained that the Bank carries out “sector work” in sectors such as energy or transport, in which a comprehensive study of that sector is undertaken for the country as a whole, and this study sets the framework for Bank policy development in that sector. He proposed consideration of sector work on cultural heritage, with steps including inventory and prioritization of sites. Another responded that the Bank has already begun doing diagnostic work in certain localities, sometimes at a regional level.

A question was posed regarding the Bank’s comparative advantage in doing sector work in this area and what the scope of its intervention should be, given that there are other organizations undertaking such activities, such as UNESCO. It was emphasized that the Bank should utilize expertise that already exists. For World Heritage Sites, the World Heritage Committee has been mandated by World Heritage Convention Parties to oversee operations in these sites prior to Bank intervention. One participant underscored the need for greater coordination between key players to enhance effectiveness in this area. She expressed concern about the absence of a convention that relates to cultural heritage management for World Heritage Cultural Sites. Another responded that the World Heritage Convention does address such management, and UNESCO has encouraged nations to practice better site management, but this has been pushed to the back burner as countries clamber to get their sites on the World Heritage List. One participant observed that the state of documentation has been fragmentary and site development and management under-funded in the past.

Sustainable Developments is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) (, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ©. This issue is written and edited by Kira Schmidt ( and Chris Spence ( Digital Editing by Andrei Henry ( The Managing Editor of Sustainable Developments is Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI ( Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by The World Bank. The authors can be contacted at their electronic mail addresses and at tel: +1-212-644-0204 and by fax: +1-212-644-0206. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700. The opinions expressed in the Sustainable Developments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD and other funders. Excerpts from Sustainable Developments may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of Sustainable Developments are sent to e-mail distribution lists (ASCII and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at ( For further information on Sustainable Developments, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Managing Editor at (