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“Mission: Preserve” – connecting young people with their cultural heritage in Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation)

“Mission: Preserve” is a community event held annually in Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation). The initiative encourages young people to deepen their knowledge about cultural heritage and propose ideas for its conservation. The festival includes workshops, cultural visits, educational activities and an ideas competition. The winning entry of the competition is later developed and implemented by the local government.

About Saint Petersburg

The Historic Centre of Saint Petersburg and Related Groups of Monuments was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1990 under criteria (i), (ii), (iv) and (vi). The 'Venice of the North', with its numerous canals and more than 400 bridges, is the result of a vast urban project begun in 1703 under Peter the Great. Later known as Leningrad (in the former USSR), the city is closely associated with the October Revolution. Its architectural heritage reconciles the very different Baroque and pure neoclassical styles, as can be seen in the Admiralty, the Winter Palace, the Marble Palace and the Hermitage.

Nine State of Conservation Reports were presented to the World Heritage Committee between 1996 and 2014. The reports predominantly refer to issues regarding the management and legal frameworks of the property. In 2019, a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission took place, concluding that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is at risk due to the ongoing absence of a Management Plan and inappropriate new developments. Several important views that relate to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property have already been disturbed. The State Party plans to construct the landscape park ‘Tuchkov Buyan’ within the property. As of May 2021, the World Heritage Centre has only received a short concept note regarding this project. At the same time, the World Heritage Centre has also received complaints regarding potential plans to develop large-scale constructions on the ‘Okhta Cape’, part of The Neva River with Banks, a component of the property.

“Mission: Preserve” – connecting young people with their cultural heritage

“Mission: Preserve” is an interregional festival held annually in Saint Petersburg (Russian Federation). The project aims to bring the culture and history of the city and especially the World Heritage site closer to the attention of the younger generations. The activities are organised by the Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments and supported by the Government of the Leningrad Region, the Saint Petersburg Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (Academy of Arts) UNESCO Chairs, and the Russian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM Russia).

“Mission: Preserve” started in 2016 as a competition involving several schools in the region. Initially, it started with only a few schools, but the number of participants has increased every year. The format of the “Mission: Preserve” changed in 2019, when it became a festival with events and social activities dedicated to children, young people and university students from the Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region.

By conveying the cultural value of urban space to young people, the festival has a decisive educational role. The programme comprises free educational activities, excursions, workshops and visits to cultural sites. At the same time, the festival includes a competition that allows young people to showcase their innovative ideas on protecting and disseminating heritage values. The competition provides young people with a chance to propose ideas and projects to the local authorities, who later develop and implement them. The first phase of the competition consists of an application and selection process by a panel of experts, which takes approximately five months. In the second phase, the winners are presented at a public event in one of the palaces in Saint Petersburg.  Finally, the winning projects are prepared for realisation and then showcased to the public.

The winning project of the 2019 edition of “Mission: Preserve” was a tactile map for the blind and visually impaired. The proposal was developed by students from a special needs school. The 3D-printed model represented the main components of the World Heritage site in Saint Petersburg, with a description written in braille. In 2020, the festival responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. It moved all activities online, including the workshops, the selection process and the presentation of the finalists. In future editions, the organising committee is interested in collaborating with other World Heritage Cities to develop a joint programme.

Through “Mission: Preserve”, the younger members of the local communities are encouraged to think and act to preserve their heritage. The festival helps young people think about cultural heritage as their own, encouraging a sense of ownership and belonging, and increases their awareness about cultural heritage values and conservation.

Source: Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments, 2020.

Contribution towards the implementation of the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape

“Mission: Preserve” is at its core an education programme. The project aims to contribute to the implementation of the approach of the HUL Recommendation by promoting community involvement in cultural heritage conservation and encouraging residents to learn and take ownership about their cultural heritage.

Historic Urban Landscape Tools

Civic engagement tools

Contribution towards Sustainable Development

If fully implemented in accordance with the described plans, the initiative could contribute towards Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

  • Target 4.7: the initiative aims to contribute to providing all learners with the knowledge needed to promote sustainable development, including through appreciation of cultural heritage, by providing free educational activities and materials. 

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

  • Target 11.4: the initiative aims to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural heritage.

Note: the described potential impacts of the projects are only indicative and based on submitted and available information. UNESCO does not endorse the specific initiatives nor ratifies their positive impact.

To learn more
  • Visit the festival’s website (in Russian).

Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments

kgiop.gov.spb.ru Email

Olga Morozova, Head of the Events Department for the preservation of the historical environment, Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Government of Saint Petersburg.


© UNESCO, 2021. Project team: Jyoti Hosagrahar, Alba Zamarbide, Carlota Marijuán Rodríguez.
All images © Committee for the State Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments .

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.