Old Havana and its Fortification System

Old Havana and its Fortification System, proposed by Cuba as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: special housing programs, special decree to strengthen capability to obtain financing, specialized teaching system, intense cultural programming and plan of integral development.

Summary provided by State Party

The decision to concentrate in the Office of the Historian of Havana City - as leading entity - the process of refurbishment constitutes a guarantee to continuity. It is about an institution of prestige and capable to act in coordination with other national and local government institutions. It counts on entities which functions are the urban planning, the carrying out of projects and the economic management. The legal attributions and the financial sustainability of the project, has allowed it to focus in the social aspect in an increasing way, the guarantor element of its continuity.

The work has been recognized with more than 25 International and National awards, and by professionals and authorities from several countries, stimulating projects of collaboration and interchange. In the internal level, the success of the model has allowed to extend the competences to other heritage areas of the city (the Traditional Malecón and the China Town of Havana) and the creation of a net of similar Offices in other traditional Cuban cities (Trinidad, Camagüey, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba), even implementing projects of collaboration with various cities of Venezuela. It is remarkable in 2004 UNESCO selected the program of handling and management of old Havana to be worldwide spread and for which two international experts evaluated the reached results that were published under the title “A Singular Experience”.

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.