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UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

On 10 November 2011 UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the new Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape by acclamation, the first such instrument on the historic environment issued by UNESCO in 35 years.

The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape will not replace existing doctrines or conservation approaches; rather, it is an additional tool to integrate policies and practices of conservation of the built environment into the wider goals of urban development in respect of the inherited values and traditions of different cultural contexts. This tool, which is a “soft-law” to be implemented by Member States on a voluntary basis.

In order to facilitate implementation, the UNESCO General Conference recommended that Member States take the appropriate steps to:

  • adapt this new instrument to their specific contexts;
  • disseminate it widely across their national territories;
  • facilitate implementation through formulation and adoption of supporting policies; and to
  • monitor its impact on the conservation and management of historic cities.

It further recommended that Member States and relevant local authorities identify within their specific contexts the critical steps to implement the Historic Urban Landscape approach, which may include the following:

  • To undertake comprehensive surveys and mapping of the city’s natural, cultural and human resources;
  • To reach consensus using participatory planning and stakeholder consultations on what values to protect for transmission to future generations and to determine the attributes that carry these values;
  • To assess vulnerability of these attributes to socio-economic stresses and impacts of climate change;
  • To integrate urban heritage values and their vulnerability status into a wider framework of city development, which shall provide indications of areas of heritage sensitivity that require careful attention to planning, design and implementation of development projects;
  • To prioritize actions for conservation and development;
  • To establish the appropriate partnerships and local management frameworks for each of the identified projects for conservation and development, as well as to develop mechanisms for the coordination of the various activities between different actors, both public and private.
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