The International Meeting of experts on the Conservation and Revitalization of the Kasbah of Algiers, a World Heritage Site, organized by the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO jointly with the Algerian Ministry of Culture, took place from 20 to 23 January 2018 in Algiers, Algeria. It gathered 200 participants, including key actors of the conservation of the Kasbah of Algiers, international experts, representatives of national institutions, independent Algerian experts, the associations and residents of the Kasbah.
Building on the presentation of international case studies (from Barcelona, Bari, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Havana, Rio de Janeiro, Tunis and Turin) on different conservation approaches and the revitalization of historical urban centers, allowed the participants to launch a discussion on the problems identified in the Kasbah of Algiers. The main issues raised addressed land tenure, the legal framework, conservation, urban integration, the involvement of residents and socioeconomic revitalization.
The participants assessed the quality of the work undertaken by the various actors involved in the conservation of the Kasbah and the steps taken at a national level towards its safeguarding. However, they highlighted the need for an improved institutional framework which would allow the creation of a structure in charge of implementing the safeguarding plan for the Kasbah that would be unique and representative, would be able to act autonomously; and have the authority to make decisions. The focus was on the importance of adopting a socially and economically participatory and integrated approach in order to ensure successful implementation.
The Algerian Ministry of Culture and the Wali of Algiers, who chaired the meeting in the presence of the Ministers of Housing, Tourism, and the Environment, committed to support the implementation of the meeting’s recommendations. On a technical level, UNESCO was invited to support the Algerian authorities in their efforts through an appropriate follow-up mechanism.
In the course of this meeting, a series of cultural events took place. The most important ones feature an exhibition of paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts of Algiers, collages and photos at Bastion 23, dance and video workshops with the participation of youth from the Kasbah, and the creation of photo collages and murals on the walls of the Kasbah. The artisans of the Kasbah also mobilized to present traditional crafts.
This international meeting was made possible thanks to the support of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust and received the support of the Japanese ambassador in Algeria, who was present at the opening of the meeting.