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Acropolis, Athens

Acropolis, Athens, proposed by Greece as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: multidisciplinary advisory body, Acropolis restoration service, advanced technology and innovative methods, research programme, role of the Association of Friends of the Acropolis, national competition for staff, specialized training and educational programs.

Summary provided by State Party

The intervention in the ancient buildings of the Acropolis, which commenced in the 1970s, headed by the interdisciplinary Committee ESMA, was to a certain extent one of necessity. As the rescue works progressed, new and unexpected problems of stability appeared. Numerous architectural members, intact or fragmentary originating from the monuments required conservation and protection. Concurrently, the intervention provided the opportunity for upgrading the value of the monuments themselves, with supplementary restorations.

The salvaging character of the original project evolved to include restoration projects that increased both the stability and the legibility of the edifices. The establishment in 1999 of YSMA, a new special service, provided a radical overhaul and permitted the recruitment of highly qualified technical and scientific personnel. Thus, not only a major technical project is being carried out on the Acropolis, but also an extensive research programme, that satisfies international demands concerning the conservation and restoration of the site. This research has not simply enriched the knowledge and the relevant bibliography about the Acropolis monuments, but also helped to make the appropriate decisions in each case of intervention. Research in the sector of technology has produced solutions to the choice of materials and methods, placing the Acropolis restoration works in the vanguard of the restoration of ancient monuments for its high quality, its methodology, its close connection with research and its technologically advanced applications. The ESMA method functions as a model also for interventions in other classical monuments in Greece and abroad, while the YSMA’s scientific personnel has contributed and continues to contribute with its experience and expertise to organizing and executing relevant works.

One-off Initiative for the recognition of best practices

The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy, adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2011, responds to the identified needs of a diverse and growing audience for capacity building for World Heritage conservation and management activities. Development of resource materials such as best practice case studies and communication tools are among the activities foreseen by the strategy to improve these capacities.

An example of an innovative capacity building initiative is the recently concluded Recognition of Best Practice in World Heritage Management. This initiative, requested by the World Heritage Committee and carried out within the framework of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012, solicited applications from World Heritage properties which had demonstrated new and creative ways of managing their sites. Twenty-three submissions were received and evaluated by a 10-member international selection committee which included the representatives of the Convention’s Advisory Bodies, ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN. The Historic Town of Vigan in the Philippines was chosen as a best practice achieved with relatively limited resources, a good integration of the local community in many aspects of the sustainable conservation and management of the property and with an interesting multi-faceted approach to the protection of the site.

Management practices recognized as being successful and sustainable can include everything from involving local people in site management, to creating innovative policies and regulating tourism. There are sites that include students from local schools in the management of the site (Slovenia), train local inhabitants as tour guides (Peru), or even put up nylon fences to protect villagers from straying tigers from the Sundarbans National Park (India). Sharing these practices helps other sites find solutions that work.

This initiative provides incentives for States Parties and site managers to reflect on their management practices and explore improvement possibilities.