World Heritage Cities Programme May 2021

World Heritage Cities Programme

Urban Notebooks

Newsletter May 2021

Erbil Citadel (Iraq); Author: WCA Productions © Golden Eagle Global       


Dear Readers,

     With this May 2021 issue, we are very pleased to have been publishing Urban Notebooks for a full year as we began in May 2020. Thank you for your interest and your support. Please write to us and tell us how we could further enrich the content and better support the management of management urban heritage. This has also been a strange and difficult year with the still continuing sanitary crisis, lives and livelihoods have been lost, people sick, and travel heavily restricted. Despite all the pressures and limitations, it has been uplifting to learn about the endeavours of different historic cities to support their communities.

     With this May 2021 issue, we are very pleased to have been publishing Urban Notebooks for a full year as we began in May 2020. Thank you for your interest and your support. Please write to us and tell us how we could further enrich the content and better support the management of management urban heritage. This has also been a strange and difficult year with the still continuing sanitary crisis, lives and livelihoods have been lost, people sick, and travel heavily restricted. Despite all the pressures and limitations, it has been uplifting to learn about the endeavours of different historic cities to support their communities.

     As historic cities continue to struggle and grapple with the pandemic and its numerous impacts, reimagining historic cities as liveable places for local communities and local livelihoods, seems most urgent, alongside addressing issues of climate change. Hence, the focus of the World Heritage cities meetings will remain on resilience and recovery from different perspectives. See you at the HUL Anniversary Event in June!!

Jyoti Hosagrahar
Deputy Director, World Heritage Centre

From UNESCO World Heritage Centre


Celebrating African Arts, Culture and Heritage on the African World Heritage Day

Since 2015, UNESCO has celebrated African World Heritage Day on 5 May to highlight the outstanding value of African cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage. In order to raise awareness on the issues this heritage is facing because of the climate crisis, armed conflicts and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but also to promote the variety of heritage that characterises the continent, UNESCO in collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund and other partners organised a series of events across Africa, including a webinar on African art and culture and livestreamed concerts and performances.

Learn more about African World Heritage Day

Read the message from Ms Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

Learn more about the webinar: Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want


Launch of the Urban Heritage Climate Observatory

On 26 April, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre together with the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) and the GEO Greek Office launched the GEO Urban Heritage Climate Observatory (UHCO) with an online event. The launch event gathered more than 200 participants with policy makers, stakeholders and experts from the public and private sectors. UHCO, a consortium of 84 members, will serve as a forum to share data and methodologies, address pilot studies and plan future actions against the threats of the climate crisis in World Heritage Cities.

Learn more

Medina of Sousse (Tunisia),
Jean-Jacques Gelbart
© Editions Gelbart

UNESCO-UfM conference “Living with World Heritage: Adaptive Reuse and Regeneration in the Euro-Mediterranean region”

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), an intergovernmental organisation with 42 Member States, and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) organised a two-day online conference Living with World Heritage: Adaptive Reuse and Regeneration in the Euro-Mediterranean region on 17-18 May 2021, to discuss sustainable opportunities for urban regeneration in the Euro-Mediterranean region, with specific attention paid to historic cities. This event aimed to address, through the intervention of experts, stakeholders, and the observation of some case studies, a reflection on the methods and approaches to resilient futures for urban communities, marking the 10th Anniversary of the Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation.

Learn more

Al-Nouri Mosque complex
in Mosul, Iraq
© Salah El Din Samir Hareedy
& team

UNESCO announces winning architectural design of competition to rebuild Al-Nouri Mosque complex in Mosul

The project “Courtyards Dialogue” was announced as the winner of the international competition for the reconstruction of the historic Al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, as part of the Revive the Spirit of Mosul UNESCO project of rehabilitation of the ancient city. “Courtyards Dialogue”, designed by the team of four partners – Salah El Din Samir Hareedy, Head of Team, with Khaled Farid El-Deeb, Sherif Farag Ebrahim, and Tarek Ali Mohamed –and four designer architects – Noha Mansour Ryan, Hager Abdel Ghani Gad, Mahmoud Saad Gamal, and Yousra Muhamed El-Baha –was selected from among 123 candidates. The winning project foresees the inclusion of enclosed gardens, taking inspiration from the historic gardens that were distinctive of the traditional houses prior to the 1944 remodelling. Renovations are expected to start in late autumn 2021.

Learn more




“LiBeirut” breathes new life into homes, residents, memories

12 historic buildings at risk of collapse were stabilised and restored in Beirut in the framework of the UNESCO LiBeirut project with the support of German funds. After the critical consequences of the double explosion occurred at the port of Beirut in summer 2020, UNESCO and the General Directorate of Antiquities of Lebanon identified 12 priority historic buildings at high risk of collapse, located in the urban districts of Rmail, Saifi and Medawar.
Launched on 27 August 2020, the LiBeirut project aims to assist in the rehabilitation of historic heritage buildings, schools, museums and creative spaces and industries, which strongly suffered from both the short and long-term consequences of the explosions.

Learn more


Virtual International Conference: Restoring Livelihoods Through Culture in Yemen

In the frame of the project Cash for Work: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Urban Youth in Yemen, UNESCO and the European Union organised “Restoring Livelihoods Through Culture in Yemen”, a virtual awareness-raising event that took place on 26 - 27 May, in English, Arabic and French. With the participation of local and international stakeholders, experts and heritage professionals, the conference informed the general public, partners and relevant stakeholders about progress made, pending challenges, resources, knowledge and tools available. The conference also served as a launch event for 12 short documentary films on cultural heritage in Yemen.

Learn more

Upcoming Events

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

    The HUL Anniversary Event (23-24 June) not only marks the start of the 2021 celebration but serves as a catalyst for greater adoptions of the HUL approach. At the same time, the event serves as a platform to share lessons learned from COVID-19 and to resume discussions on the future of urban management. Topics such as public space, renovations, tourism, infrastructure and livelihoods will be explored. The Recommendation will provide an overall framework, while local needs and resources determine the implementation form.

     On 23 June, the HUL Call for Action will be launched. The Call breaks the Recommendation down into concrete “Three Actions” (see “Call for Action”), in order to promote the HUL implementation for cities. The main participants will be Mayors, partners and high-level representatives from World Heritage and non-World Heritage cities , as they have the capacity to champion and mainstream the approach in their urban planning. Following the launch, panel discussions will explore the role of the Recommendation within the post-COVID-19 urban setting. Thematic lenses such as crisis response and recovery and local-actor empowerment will closely reflect the Call.

     On 24 June, the session will focus on the application of the HUL approach to the World Heritage cities. Challenges triggered by the pandemic such as the drop in tourism and restricted urban-based activities will be discussed, with HUL serving as a potential mitigation framework. The invitees will consist of site managers, national focal points, city planning departments and experts, devising in-depth, practical conversations. Case studies collected, analysed and developed during preparatory technical meetings will also be presented.

     In the context of this event, the World Heritage Centre is calling for case studies on urban heritage management practices. Topics include transportation and infrastructure, public space, renovations, tourism, traditional livelihoods and circular/green economies, revolving around the idea of recovery and “building back better” with heritage cities as thriving, sustainable and resilient urban centres strongly connected to their communities. The case studies will be presented in the preparatory technical meetings, which will take place on 16 and 21 June.

Learn more
Submit a case study
See Concept Note
See HUL Call for Action

World Heritage
Site Managers' Forum

The People's Republic of China, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, ICCROM and IUCN, in close cooperation with ICOMOS, are delighted to announce that the fourth edition of the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum will be organized within the framework of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, with the theme “World Heritage governance – Being prepared to manage change and continuity”.

The Forum will take place online between 7 - 13 July 2021. World Heritage Site Managers from across the globe are invited to participate in this year’s Forum, which is aimed at continuing to empower World Heritage Site Managers on the international stage.

Learn more and register


3rd Regional Workshop for Europe on Visitor Centres in UNESCO designated sites

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, the World Heritage Centre and the Union for the Mediterranean are collaborating to organise an online World Heritage City Lab online on the topic “Living with World Heritage: Adaptive Reuse and Regeneration in the Euro-Mediterranean region”. The online conference will take place on 17-18 May 2020. The sessions will focus on practical examples that could support the better integration of urban heritage management in urban development processes.

Deadline for registration: 31 May 2021

Learn more

City Focus

City Focus is a corner for the World Heritage Cities and other historic cities to share their challenges and initiatives.   
Share yours!

Children’s Workshop © Bayt Yakan

Celebrations of Iftar in the community centre Bayt Yakan © Bayt Yakan

Historic Cairo, Egypt:
Community-centred revitalisation
of Souq al-Silah

Since 2016, a long-standing project has been working to revitalise a commercial street in the historic district of Darb al-Ahmar (Cairo, Egypt) and reconnect the local community with their cultural heritage. The project, developed with help from the Research Station of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, consists of awareness-raising and training workshops, the creation of a community centre and the development of local partnerships. As a result, the commercial street of Souq al-Silah has been revitalised, bringing new opportunities for local artisans and reconnecting the community with their tangible and intangible heritage. The new community centre serves as a training facility and a safe public space for women and children.

(The World Heritage site of Historic Cairo is part of the World Heritage Cities Programme.)

Source: Naoko Fukami, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, Cairo Research Station.

Explore the case on World Heritage Canopy

Jesuit Missions of the Guaranis:
San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, Nuestra Señora de Loreto and Santa Maria Mayor (Argentina),
Ruins of Sao Miguel das Missoes (Brazil) © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent 

Brazil: An online and itinerant exhibition aims to transmit the cultural heritage of the region of Missions

The itinerant and online exhibition “Seven People, a Portrait of a Territory” aims to educate and share the history, culture and heritage of the Brazilian territory of Missions. The initiative is part of an ongoing project developed by the National Institute for Historic and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN), the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) and UNESCO to strengthen the management of Jesuit and missionary heritage, especially related to the Guaranis, Moxis and Chiquitos people.

Source: UNESCO National Office for Brazil. 

Explore the case on World Heritage Canopy

© Terra d'ombra Production 

Cremona, Italy: Violin makers in develop safeguarding plans for post-COVID recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact in cities worldwide, affecting local communities and their livelihoods. The city of Cremona is in one of the regions most affected by COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in March 2020. The crisis had a direct impact on the "Traditional violin craftsmanship in Cremona", inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In response, local authorities have called the heritage community to help in identifying the best strategies to safeguard this traditional urban practice.

(The city of Cremona, Italy, is not on the World Heritage list.)

Source: UNESCO.  

Learn more

Our Partners


ICOMOS: Urban Thinkers Campus webinar “Beirut post-blast reconstruction: Climate Heritage Planning to build back better”

On 17 March 2021, the webinar “Beirut post-blast reconstruction: Climate-Heritage Planning to Build Back Better” was organised by ICOMOS, FNAU-MTPA, AUB Urban Lab and IFPO in the framework of the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign. The webinar was an occasion for dialogue between the Lebanese institutions, international organisations, professionals, NGOs, and academics, to discuss progress and future opportunities.

Learn more

Mantua and Sabbioneta (Italy) © Valerio Li Vigni

UNESCO Chair in Architectural Preservation and Planning in World Heritage Cities: “The Future of Cultural Heritage” webinar

Organised by the UNESCO Chair in Architectural Preservation and Planning in World Heritage Cities at the Politecnico di Milano, the event “The Future of Cultural Heritage: New Perspectives for the Enhancement of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites” took place both in the city of Mantua and online on 5 May. The dialogue provided an opportunity to discuss practices and strategies for the enhancement of World Heritage sites. The contribution of specialists and researchers addressed three main areas: future policies and tools for the management of the sites, inclusive design for heritage recovery, and practices for accessible tourism. The event included the participation of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe.


ICLEI: World Congress for an equitable and sustainable urban future

The 2021- 2022 ICLEI World Congress kicked off with a Virtual Launch last month. Throughout the upcoming months, a series of online and physical events will explore critical issues in sustainable urban development, leading the way to the Malmö Summit, which will take place in the Swedish city 11-13 May 2022.

Learn more about the Virtual Launch

Learn more about the ICLEI World Congress


United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG): "Upgrading Culture in Sustainable Development"

The recording of the UCLG-organised event "'Upgrading Culture in Sustainable Development: The Time is Now" is now available. The event aimed at consolidating a dialogue between global cultural civil society networks and local and regional governments in the frame of the UCLG Pact for the Future and the campaign #culture2030goal.

Access the recording

Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun (China), © Ko Hon Chiu Vincent

WHITRAP Shanghai: 2nd Cycle of UNESCO World Heritage & Sustainable Tourism - Chinese Pilot Study(2021-2025)National Training Course

From 7 to 11 June 2021, the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO, Shanghai Centre (WHITRAP Shanghai) will organise a training session on managing vulnerabilities regarding tourism in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. World Heritage sites are experiencing challenges while facing the critical effects of the sanitary crisis, hoping to find opportunities for recovery in national and regional tourism and social resilience.

Learn more

Illustration: PortCityFutures

(Re)Imagining Port Cities: Space, Society and Culture

The first joint education programme of PortCityFutures has just been launched: a free open online course (MOOC) on “(Re)Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture” is open on the EdX platform. The course is taught by experts from the PortCityFutures team including leading scholars from Delft University of Technology, Erasmus University and Leiden University.

Enrol now

Publications of interest


The Tracker – Culture & Public Policy

Special Issue (April 2021)

The monthly Tracker produced by UNESCO aims to monitor culture in public policy in the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. The publication addresses national, regional and local policies for development and recent debates on the role of culture and cultural heritage for a sustainable future.
Providing an overview on specific trends of cultural policies with particular attention to initiatives undertaken to fight the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, this special issue focuses on looking at countries that integrated culture in their policy agenda and data related to the results obtained. 

Browse the publication


How to build a learning city?

Covering the Guidelines for Building Learning Cities, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning produced a series of video tutorials elaborating approaches, actions and strategies on ‘How to build a learning city’. Addressing hands-on tools to implement policies and the Guidelines for Building Learning Cities, the initiative aims to support local policy makers in urban contexts on the themes of planning, stakeholders’ involvement, celebrations and events, accessibility and equality, evaluation and monitoring, and sustainable funding.

Browse the video material

© nai010 publishers

The Urbanisation of the Sea – From Concepts and Analyses to Design

Edited by Nancy Couling and Carola Hein (2020) nai010 publishers

Following the case of the North Sea, one of the most industrialised seas in the world, the book explores the relationship between the coastline, its urban settlements and the sea. To support economic production from the maritime sector, the North Sea area was profoundly planned and emptied of its cultural and traditional significance. Through the analysis of design and artistic practices, literature and academic project, the book addresses new perspectives and practices for new design in this spatial realm.

Browse the publication


WHITRAP Newsletter –
50th Issue

In 2021, the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific launched the 50th issue of its WHITRAP Newsletter. This issue focuses on reporting and promoting a rich variety of online activities that have been organised by WHITRAP to adapt its agenda to the current sanitary situation (training courses, lectures, and seminars, among others). Several relevant publications and opportunities are featured in the publication.

Browse the publication


© Getty Images

Call For Participants: World Heritage Young Professionals Forum

As an integral part of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee (Fuzhou (China)/Online, 2021), and within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, the National Commission for the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO will host the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2021 online, on the theme of “World Heritage and Sustainable Livelihoods”, from 5th to 9th July 2021.

Subscribe now 


Deadline extended-Call for nominations: 2021 UNESCO – Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes

The call and online submission for the UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize will be open for nominations until 31 May 2021 (midnight Paris time). The UNESCO - Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes was established in 1995 to reward outstanding examples of actions to safeguard and enhance the world's cultural landscapes, a category of World Heritage. The winner of the prize will receive the sum of US $30,000.

Learn more

Contact the Secretariat of the Prize, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre at

© Shutterstock

Call For proposals: East African Youth and African World Heritage Day 2021

In celebration of African World Heritage Day on 5 May 2021, and in the framework of the African Union’s 2021 Year of “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”, the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in partnership with the UNESCO National Commissions in the region and the African World Heritage Fund are launching an open competition for youth, aged 18 to 35 years, in all 13 countries covered by the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa to develop a project proposal for raising awareness and engagement of youth in the protection and promotion of African World Heritage.

Deadline: 31 May 2021 

Learn more


Call for applications: ICCROM Heritage Place Lab Pilot

In the framework of the ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership Programme (WHL), a new activity is launched to strengthen networks across research and site management. To structure a practice-based research agenda in World Heritage sites, the ICCROM-IUCN invites researchers and WH sites managers to team up in Research-Practice Teams and participate in the Heritage Place Lab Pilot Phase, a series of 6 incubator online workshops between 2021 and 2022. The goal of this initiative consists in developing thematic research proposals that could be presented when applying for research funds.

Deadline: 15 June 2021

Learn more 

© European Commission

Call for applications: 2021 New European Bauhaus Prize

The New European Bauhaus aims to “give visibility to examples and concepts that illustrate how beautiful, sustainable, inclusive places already exist in our territories, our communities and in our practices, paving the way to the future.” 20 prizes will be awarded for up to €30,000 each. Applications are welcome from individuals and organisations, for initiatives located in the European Union.

Deadline: 31 May 2021.

Learn more

© Rebecca Leary

Vacancy: Conservation Projects Officer

The Edinburgh World Heritage is looking to appoint a Conservation Projects Officer to play a key role in the conservation of this remarkable historic city.

Deadline: 31 May 2021

Learn more 

© UNOSSC and UN-Habitat

Call for submissions: Innovative Experiences of Cities on Environmental Sustainability and Climate Action

UNOSSC and UN-Habitat are calling for “examples of innovative environmental sustainability and climate solutions in cities that include South-South or triangular cooperation approaches, are scalable and replicable and involve a local government or municipal authority”. Selected case studies will be featured in the forthcoming joint publication by UNOSSC and UN-Habitat as well as on UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda website.

Deadline: 5 June 2021.

Learn more

Note: The practices shared in Urban Notebooks are not assessed in any way by the World Heritage Centre or presented here as model practices nor do they represent complete solutions to heritage management problems. The views expressed by experts and Site Managers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Heritage Centre. The practices and views shared here are included in Urban Notebooks as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on urban heritage with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general.

The cases shared in Urban Notebooks address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Practices and examples showcased in the newsletter do not entail any recognition of inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List or any of its thematic programmes. 

Guidelines for Contributions

Urban Notebooks is a way for World Heritage Cities to share up-to-date information, practices and opportunities around the world.

Please share with us your challenges and projects. Share with us the initiatives and activities related to culture in your city in response to the COVID-19. Please share opportunities as well. Your contributions will make the Urban Notebooks better.

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photos, videos, projects, activities, publications

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Send us your current contact details and stay updated on our latest initiatives

Find the form for submissions here (English/French) and Grant of Rights document (English/French)

The Team of the World Heritage Cities Programme
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We gratefully acknowledge the support of the City of Nanjing

We gratefully acknowledge the Subdirección General de Gestión y Coordinación de los Bienes culturales (formerly Subdirección General de Protección del Patrimonio Histórico) of the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Government of Spain for the translation of this bulletin into Spanish 

Published in 2021 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France under CC-BY-SA 3.0 IGO license  

© UNESCO 2021