Sustainable Developments Vol. 24 No. 2

Sustainable Developments

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Participants at the Cultural Site Management Workshop heard presentations and engaged in group discussions on the site locale during the morning session and on authority structure and financial support in the afternoon.


Workshop Facilitator Peter Auer opened the meeting by explaining that a group of participants had met the previous evening to distill conclusions from Monday’s discussions on natural and cultural attributes of cultural site management (CSM). Noting that an important objective of the Workshop was to help develop a curriculum that could be tailored to both prescriptive and educational purposes, they outlined key principles identified by participants, including, inter alia: recognition of the natural and cultural values associated with any cultural heritage project; participation of relevant stakeholders from the start of project development; provision of adequate time, budgets and expertise to conduct effective assessments as a prerequisite for project support; inclusion of regional and national management planning; and development of a methodology, by the Bank, for locally-based CSM.


Pietronella Van Den Oever, Environmental Sociologist, Environment and Natural Resources, World Bank Institute, identified necessary conditions for cultural heritage preservation, including technical, economic, socio-cultural and stakeholder factors. She emphasized that stakeholder participation is essential from the start of the process as it taps into a precious resource, helps distribute benefits equitably, and ensures social inclusion while reducing the likelihood of opposition and conflict. She said the costs of failing to involve stakeholders are considerable. Steps to involve stakeholders include: social and gender analysis, including identifying stakeholders and their respective roles; participation; and mediation/conflict prevention. She presented a model for working through the process of cultural heritage preservation projects that includes motivational assessment of key stakeholders, technical and economic analysis of resources needed for project implementation, and gender and social analysis to determine sufficient conditions for project success.

Joseph King, Coordinator, Africa 2009 Program, ICCROM, emphasized the importance of community involvement in all phases of the site planning process: implementation, monitoring, maintenance, and adjustment for the future. He stressed the need to utilize and respect a community’s existing mechanisms for participation, while recognizing that a variety of interests and values will exist within any community and ensuring that all are given a voice in the process. He also noted that site security can be significantly enhanced with community involvement.

Joseph Libsekal, Director, National Museum of Eritrea, presented information on a number of valuable cultural heritage sites in Eritrea. He highlighted methods to involve local communities in the planning of the Gohayto site, including discussions with them to learn their oral history, understand the local ecology, assess community sentiments about the site, inventory cultural assets of the site, and develop programs to train local people as guides, interpreters and site managers. He reiterated that actively involving the community contributes to protection of sites from degradation.

Mario Bravo, Cultural Heritage Consultant, discussed recent stakeholder involvement in CSM in Ouro Preto, Brazil. He detailed the tensions between the city’s economic requirements and its preservation as a historic site. He identified its key challenges: managing change without transforming the environment; building consensus out of public discord and a lack of trust; identifying viable alternatives to attract industries that would not degrade the site; and implementing change within a relatively short time frame. Steps to revitalize the economy while preserving cultural heritage included: cross-dialogues between all sectors of society; education and a public information process, particularly through engagement of the local school children; and a long-term perspective. He concluded that there are considerable benefits from communications campaigns that aim to involve the community, adding that an informed and educated community is necessary and stakeholder involvement throughout the process is essential.

Atakilti Hagege, Director, Bureau of Culture, Tourism and Information, Ethiopia, outlined challenges and viable solutions in cultural heritage management in Tigrai, northern Ethiopia. He proposed: establishing training institutions in client countries and cooperating with existing local institutions of higher learning to develop viable curricula in cultural conservation to address the shortage of skilled architects, archaeologists and curators; investing in cultural infrastructure to transform cultural resources into tourism products; and developing and implementing training programs for site personnel, making them direct beneficiaries from tourism revenues, and improving information exchange on trafficking of stolen artifacts at the international level to reduce theft of movable cultural heritage. He highlighted the creation of interdependence between tourists, host communities and attraction sites as a fundamental basis for sustainable cultural heritage management. He also noted that war is the primary threat to cultural heritage and urged enforcement of basic principles, conventions and international law in this regard.

In an ensuing discussion, participants raised a number of issues and questions for the presenters. One highlighted political tensions between different parties involved in site management, such as certain parties who may seek to hamper full participation of all stakeholders, and stressed the need to address this issue. Another speaker noted that, when discussing different stakeholders’ values and needs, one must consider the temporal dimension and tensions between “the real” (the short term) and “the ideal” (the long term). For instance, while a local community may value the cultural and historical significance of a site, if they are living in poverty, the urgency to fulfill their basic needs may be more pressing than CSM concerns.

Participants then broke into small groups to address the problems identified, propose solutions, and identify any other issues and concerns related to the site locale. They presented their conclusions to the Workshop as a whole. The first group noted that specialists must be trained to work well with the public and that trained staff should originate from the community they work with to reduce suspicion and increase local understanding. They emphasized the importance of capacity building and said all projects should include a training component. They noted that evaluation is important but cautioned that measuring only economic benefits may be too simplistic and that a methodology for evaluating benefits should be developed. The second group emphasized the importance of scale and the need to address and integrate national, regional and local factors to achieve successful outcomes. Highlighting the local perspective, they said a strategic approach to identifying and resolving crucial problems is required, as is the use of cultural resources to produce cultural products so the local population benefits. Relevant stakeholders should be identified and encouraged to educate each other about important issues in order to promote understanding and agreement.

The third group stressed the importance of mechanisms for achieving effective participation, such as: ensuring that all stakeholders can participate and receive comprehensive information about the alternatives and their likely outcomes; increasing the number of stakeholders; involving a facilitator who is neutral and trusted by all parties; empowering all stakeholders to negotiate and trade; and guaranteeing follow-up on participatory decisions. The group noted that mechanisms for conflict resolution should be developed. The fourth group said a successful CSM process should: identify stakeholders in a systematic way; link the aims and interests of heritage conservation with broader concerns and community needs; minimize the social and economic costs and avoid disruptions caused by relocation; work with communities to identify pressures early enough to be able to influence them; ensure participation in all stages of the planning and management of sites; and foster trust among stakeholders.


Sharon Sullivan, former Executive Director, Australian Heritage Commission, presented a planning model for the management of archaeological sites. The first steps should be to document a site’s history and identify and involve key groups that have an interest in the site or influence its management. A significance assessment to determine the site’s values and a management assessment to identify constraints and opportunities that will influence its management should both be undertaken. Management policies can then be defined and strategies developed to achieve management objectives, including strategies for maintenance, conservation, visitor management, ongoing local involvement, and business. Implementation, monitoring and reassessment are the final steps. She emphasized the importance of moving strategically in small steps and involving local actors and managers in the management plan.

Giora Solar, Director of Conservation, Getty Conservation Institute, presented the case of the Beit-Shean site in Israel as an example of a successful management plan. He highlighted employment generation for the local community and discovery of the scientific and touristic values of the site as evidence of the plan’s success. He described the creation of a decision- making mechanism that included the National Parks Authority, the Antiquities Authority, a financing body, and town residents, with the town mayor acting as Chairman. An implementation committee decided on the need for a master plan for the town, which recognized that the site was to be developed and should bring benefits to the town. He highlighted efforts such as the implementation of a program to train local maintenance personnel and tour guides that enabled the community to reap economic benefits from the site.

Geoffrey Wainwright, former Chief Archaeologist, English Heritage, focused on economic and political issues involved in recent CSM developments at Stonehenge. Noting that Stonehenge is one of Britain’s heritage icons, he said it has been described by a parliamentary committee as a national disgrace. Problems include the proximity of two roads and substandard visitor facilities. He reported that English Heritage and the National Trust plan to improve the site. Reforms include closing one nearby road and tunneling another, which will be funded by the British Government. A new visitor center is planned for a nearby town, and a commercial partner is being sought to develop it. The landscape around Stonehenge will be restored and nearby fences pulled down in an effort to improve visitors’ experience and revitalize the surrounding landscape. He explained that these reforms were possible only after a protracted political process lasting sixteen years and involving four government departments. He emphasized the importance of political will.

Frank Penna, Principal, Frank J. Penna and Associates, Inc., discussed measures to mobilize investment in tourism, highlighting the Bank’s efforts to encourage investment in coastal tourism development in southern Albania. He said the challenge is to harness tourism to produce societal benefits while preventing site degradation. He emphasized that mobilizing investment requires that the investment climate be improved to make it more attractive to the tourism industry. He noted that the Bank lends heavily for both components of the investment climate: legislation on land use, zoning and regional planning and its enforcement, and infrastructure. He described an innovative initiative by the Bank to seek direct participation from the trekking and small hotel industries to make recommendations on where and how to best target investment. He also highlighted the formation of joint ventures between local communities and foreign tour operators to foster the trekking industry in Bolivia.

Jane Covington, MBA student, University of Virginia, discussed Zanzibar’s Stone Town Conservation Plan to preserve the location’s historic character and benefit residents and visitors. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, in partnership with the Government of Zanzibar, implemented this project, which included four elements: surveying the town, including documenting building types, significant buildings and infrastructure quality, and conducting a household survey with economic and employment details; developing an action plan for new construction in order to manage change; enacting necessary legislation; and disseminating information about the plan to relevant stakeholders through a variety of methods, including training sessions, television and newspapers. She emphasized the Aga Khan Trust’s effectiveness at sharing responsibility for funding and encouraging community self-reliance.

Tulin Sermin Ozduran, Architect, Ministry of Culture, Turkey, made a presentation on the Pamukkale-Hierapolis site in Turkey. She noted efforts to develop and maintain the site to protect its natural and archaeological characteristics and prevent degradation by tourism. She described a national competition to be launched by the government to spur efforts to enhance archaeological remains at Hierapolis. Some initiatives undertaken thus far include restoration works and landscaping.

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 (