European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Best Practices in World Heritage: People and Communities

28 April - 1 May 2015

Menorca, Spain | Universidad Complutense of Madrid


The Universidad Complutense of Madrid, together with the Consell Insular of Menorca are organizing the 2nd International Conference on 'Best Practices in World Heritage', to create a meeting point on the management of tangible and intangible properties inscribed as World Heritage from the point of view of those who participate and coexist with them.


To this end, sessions about the following topics will be organized:


UNESCO, World Heritage and everything it implies, has always been involved with the most economically underprivileged and socially deprived communities. Cultural and Natural Heritage at risk has also been a constant subject of international work and should be addressed in this section. At the same time, a thorough review of these issues is needed.

To what extent does the aid arrive? Whom does it reach? How is it distributed? What does it generate? What is left at the end? What makes a site in a country World Heritage? and what does not? Are deprived populations really helped and integrated in the recovery or diffusion of the sites? In the previous Conference a lot of debate and complaint was brought up regarding this issue. Now, we want to present and discuss new formulas for a more fair and balanced cooperation.


Many agents are involved in the process of World Heritage nomination. Sorting them out and making them effective is one of the most complex management tasks. WH is not the same when addressing tourist agents, politicians or local communities; however, discourses created around World Heritage usually appear to be indifferent to the real stakeholders, individuals and societies, often being repetitive and lacking synergies. New discourses should be created at different scales in order to communicate and seek protection measures according to the needs of each site, to the needs of the people on that site.

The aims of this session are to share the existing working models, identifying their shortcomings and making improvement proposals.


When writing this title for the session, mostly everybody can think of tourism and without a doubt, it is so. Tourism is an engine of economic development. In fact, employment and growth data on tourism- related activities greatly surpasses all the other sectors and much tourism is focused on Cultural Heritage, both tangible and intangible. However, Cultural Heritage is more than that, and economic assets should not be the only measure of its worth. Life quality and sustainability, as well as sustainable tourism are key terms that have been greatly used, but in practice they do not fully perform. This Menorca Conference aims to gather experts in economics and business, but also experts in “feelings”. We are interested in socio-urban wealth improvements in global terms, economic and cultural enrichment for those who live in the places, not only for the tourist business. World Heritage should first serve its nearby inhabitants, its people and communities; and more attention is needed to these issues.

In short, we seek participants to present projects of all kinds that will help generate economic and cultural wealth to those living in areas considered World Heritage, their true protagonists and stakeholders.


The outstanding universal values of World Heritage, and above all authenticity, have been quite challenged in recent years. The people’s perception studies developed for our research in some WH cities show a very instrumental vision of what being World Heritage means: it is related to site cleanings, tourism wealth, accessibility, but not so much to the cultural, historical, aesthetic and artistic values... That is, a very traditional approach on perception continues to exist in relation to WH properties; they are lived and visited ignoring or reinterpreting the reasons for which UNESCO considered them World Heritage and we would rather like to find a different approach. Neither the tourist experience nor the studies published seem satisfactory on many occasions.

To our mind, a high percentage of conflicts are related to this lack of knowledge about what people think, feel or consider regarding Heritage within the specialized world. Proposals of studies regarding this issue will be welcome to be presented at the Conference.


Conflicts Cultural Heritage faces are multiple, but have we developed effective tools to solve them? International mediation has become a classical solution for chattel assets and for returning collections to different States... but what about identity conflicts? In Menorca 2012 we heard about them, but there are also other tools, such as the ones developed by everyday practices that confront private property and public interest, etc.

Citizen participation has become an essential element in the current agendas of World Heritage management. However, how is this participation being done? How much do people decide about what is kept and what is not? About what is shown and what is not? Do people really want their place or their tradition to become World Heritage? And, are we able to find real channels of understanding, with levels of equality between the population and the political, administrative, or expert bodies in decision making?

The Conference will include participatory experiences, their problems and their benefits, analyzing the role of participation both from private individuals, as from associations and foundations working in World Heritage, and of course also from social networks.


World Heritage management should include plenty of cross-curricular actions in which the different dimensions of Cultural Heritage are addressed: from the scientific-technical aspects (archeology, architecture, urbanism, landscape, etc.) to policies or administrative measures, and of course, the citizen dimension.

We seek exemplary cross-curricular transversal projects, which have allowed to recover heritage spaces thanks to different types of actions, as for example, the construction of new areas, saving spaces for environmental reasons, the inclusion of marginalized populations, economic recovery or even tourist synergies, etc.

This Conference seeks to break those barriers between technical and political approaches, academic and popular viewpoints, etc. It seeks to build up, looking at the connection of numerous points of view and with multiple solutions enabling to act and redo working schemes.


Please submit 300-400 word abstract, including Title, Author, 5-8 key words, the Topic session, and whether it is paper or poster presentation. Deadline: 30 October 2014.


» link to the Conference