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Living Religious World Heritage: Participatory Management and Sustainable Use

An international seminar and network meeting of site managers of World Heritage properties of religious interest was held in Kyiv, Ukraine from 31 October to 1 November 2018 to discuss ‘Living Religious World Heritage: Participatory Management and Sustainable Use.’

World Heritage properties such as religious and sacred sites, constitute one of the largest thematic categories on the World Heritage List. This seminar, organised within the framework of the UNESCO Initiative on Heritage of Religious Interest, represents a cornerstone in developing general guidance regarding the management of cultural and natural heritage of religious interest, as requested by the World Heritage Committee.

The gathering recommended that protection and sustainable use of the attributes of Outstanding Universal Value and associated sacred values of each World Heritage property of religious interest should be central to its management. It also called for the full protection of spiritual, historico-cultural and natural values in cultural, natural and mixed World Heritage properties.

Participants encouraged the full involvement of relevant religious custodians and representatives of local communities in decision making about World Heritage properties.

It was further emphasized that conservation authorities, religious communities, site managers and other stakeholders and rights holders, including local communities, should agree on key objectives of management system and/or management plans of each World Heritage property of religious interest. In this regard, the study of the property’s integral cultural, natural and spiritual resources and their relationships, which define the requirements for preservation of its Outstanding Universal Value, should be an integral part of such a system.  

Participants called for the establishment of a network of Site Managers in charge of World Heritage properties of religious interest to share experience among similar sites including those associated with the different faiths.  

The meeting also recommended using case study and cross-thematic approaches to develop and implement on-site pilot-project activities at the selected World Heritage properties of religious interest.

Finally, the gathering encouraged States Parties in regions and sub-regions, which have not yet had a regional expert consultation meeting, to organise it in close collaboration with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Message by Mechtild Rössler, Director of  the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

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