The Special Session "Heritage and development: diversity as an alternative" will take place on the 18th of December 2009 in Marrakesh within the framework of Africities V, the local African communities Summit (16-20 December.) This Session is organised by the World Heritage Centre, with the encouragement of the France-UNESCO Convention, and in collaboration with the Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF).

After the introduction of the theme of urban heritage during the pan-African Summit for local governments in 2003 (Yaoundé) and its development with its area of influence in 2006 (Nairobi), the World Heritage Centre now touches upon the issue of the diversity of development models with a heritage basis, that can be established by local decision-makers.

This session is linked to the general theme of the Summit (the response of local African governments to the global crisis) and calls for a reflection on the fundamental role of culture in the elaboration of new development strategies, and invites decision-makers on a national and local level to take on board cultural issues in order to formulate development projects better suited to the specificity of their territories, and to develop the various forms of international cooperation.

Two round tables are planned: 

  • The first: "Can cultural diversity and social cohesion inspire new development models?" will deal with issues of democratic governance and urban pluralism (the role of the mayor as a mediator), sustainable land planning that takes cultural practices into account, economic solutions that are an alternative to the dominant model (cultural industries, family economy...)
  • The second: "Cultural heritage and local development - from Yaoundé (2003) to Marrakech (2009): commitments and outlook" will provide a review of the World Heritage Centre's efforts in this direction and of the progress of the integration of the heritage question in the agendas of local African governments. We will also deal with threats and issues that are still on the agenda.

For more information, please see the introductory paper and programme.