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World Heritage Solutions for Sustainable Futures

Canopy is a living platform of case studies and theoretical knowledge on the role of heritage in sustainable development. Canopy builds on existing frameworks, such as the World Heritage Convention, the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape and the Sustainable Development Goals, to provide clear, practical examples of the contribution of heritage and culture to sustainable development.

Six themes

Environment and Resilience
Prosperity and Livelihoods
Inclusion and Participation
Knowledge and Skills
Peace and Security
Gender Equality

Learn more

Contribute to Canopy

Canopy is a growing database built thanks to contributions from the World Heritage community and beyond. We are currently collecting case studies of management practices, events, and activities related to World Heritage and historic cities.

Send your contribution


Understanding the movement of people through phone use analysis in Florence (Italy) In order to understand the flow of people in the Historic Centre of Florence, the local government ...

Heritage and Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development is a concept, an approach, an aspiration, and an urgent need. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union Agenda 2063, and the UN New Urban Agenda, are among several major international agreements towards sustainable development. The World Heritage Sustainable Development Policy, adopted by the World Heritage Committee, provides concepts and principles linking conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties with sustainable development.

Canopy provides a thematic and regional resource for better understanding:

  • the role and contribution of heritage to sustainable development in and around the World Heritage property towards benefitting local communities;
  • operational solutions for sustainable development in and around World Heritage properties that also serve to protect their OUV;
  • examples of heritage management practices that contribute to sustainable development and sustainable development solutions that engage with heritage.

Canopy is structured
along six themes

Environment and Resilience

The World Heritage Convention promotes environmental sustainability and resilience, by valuing and conserving places of outstanding natural heritage value, containing exceptional biodiversity, geodiversity or other exceptional natural features, which are essential for human wellbeing. A concern for environmental sustainability applies also to cultural and mixed World Heritage properties, including cultural landscapes. This involves a responsible interaction with the environment in both cultural and natural properties, to avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources, ensuring long-term environmental quality and the strengthening of resilience to disasters and climate change. In the face of increasing disaster risks and the impact of climate change, States Parties should recognise that World Heritage represents both an asset to be protected and a resource to strengthen the ability of both the local communities and the World Heritage properties for enhanced resilience to absorb, and recover from the effects of a hazard, in line with disaster risks and climate change multilateral agreements. 

Prosperity and Livelihoods

World Heritage properties, both cultural and natural properties, offer great potential to alleviate poverty and enhance sustainable livelihood of local communities, including those of marginalised populations. Recognising that poverty eradication is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development and the well-being of present and future generations, the conservation and heritage management of World Heritage properties could therefore contribute to promoting sustainable forms of inclusive and equitable economic development, productive and decent employment and income-generating activities for all, while fully respecting the OUV of World Heritage properties.

Inclusion and Participation

The World Heritage Convention in Article 5 calls upon States Parties to “adopt a general policy which aims to give the cultural and natural heritage a function in the life of the community”. It is important to recognise that inclusive social development is at the heart of the implementation of this provision of the Convention. Full inclusion, respect and equity of all stakeholders, including local and concerned communities and indigenous peoples, together with a commitment to gender equality, are a fundamental premise for inclusive social development. Enhancing quality of life and wellbeing in and around World Heritage properties is essential, taking into account communities who might not visit or reside in or near properties but are still stakeholders. States Parties should ensure that the conservation and management of World Heritage properties is based on recognition of cultural diversity, inclusion and equity.

Knowledge and Skills

The integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention requires the building of necessary capacities among practitioners, institutions, concerned communities and networks, across a wide interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial spectrum. To this end, States Parties may like to promote scientific studies and research, develop tools and guidelines, organize training and provide quality education through a variety of learning environments tailored to each audience; in doing so, the potential contribution of non-governmental organisations should be taken into account. This includes also the transmission of Intangible Cultural Heritage associated with the World Heritage property from generation to generation including knowledge of managing the heritage values of the property and traditional practices that promote the authenticity and integrity of the property. A focus on cultural and biological diversity as well as the linkages between the conservation of cultural and natural heritage and the various dimensions of sustainable development will enable all those concerned to better engage with World Heritage, protect its OUV and fully harness its potential benefits for communities.

Peace and security

Gender equality 

Further Resources

Call for contribution

The World Heritage Centre is currently collecting examples of management practices, events, and activities related to World Heritage and historic cities. The collection aims at inspiring solutions and sharing innovative practices related to sustainable development across historic cities around the world. Selected case studies will be disseminated through our different channels such as our e-newsletter, online workshops, and webpages related to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 

For this, we invite you to fill in this form in English, French or Spanish, and send it to worldheritagecities@unesco.org with the subject line “[Name of city, country] Urban heritage management case studies”. 

We look forward to receiving your contributions and learning more about your recent efforts for the protection of World Heritage and historic cities.


We grateful acknowledge the support of the city of Nanjing.

Note: The cases shared in this platform address heritage protection practices in World Heritage sites and beyond. Items being showcased in this website do not entail any type of recognition or inclusion in the World Heritage list or any of its thematic programmes. The practices shared 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 as a way to provide insights and expand the dialogue on heritage conservation with a view to further urban heritage management practice in general