The UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) developed the World Heritage City Dialogues (Dialogues) in 2019 within the context of the World Heritage Cities Programme, one of the six thematic programmes approved and monitored by the World Heritage Committee.
The Dialogues function as an online Forum, which brings together: the site managers of the UNESCO World Heritage cities in each world region, National Focal Points and the World Heritage Cities Programme for the purpose of facilitating an informal exchange of experiences and views. In 2020, nine regional sessions of the Dialogues gathered more than 250 participants across the five global regions. During these exchanges, site managers, national Focal Points for World Heritage and heritage professionals representing 83 World Heritage sites from 44 countries shared their experiences and challenges, especially in the context of the ongoing crises of the pandemic. The Dialogues have allowed the WHC, Focal Points and site managers to inform each other about their planned and ongoing activities, to discuss current challenges as well as accomplishments, to address transversal topics and to explore specific areas for cooperation. The Dialogues have proved to also be valuable to highlight good practices in the field and to encourage an inter-city cooperation.
In the framework of the World Heritage Cities Programme and the World Cities Day, a new round of World Heritage City Dialogues was organised by the World Heritage Cities Programme. This time, the dialogues used the takeaways from the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL Recommendation) (June 2021) and the launch of the UNESCO HUL Call for Action as background material. The Celebrations served as a platform for international experts, managers and practitioners to share lessons learned from COVID-19 as well as strategies to address the impacts of climate change on the future of urban management. The takeaways from the June 2021 events were shared with all site managers and Focal Points of World Heritage cities prior to the Dialogues. The sessions were organised by world region in order to reflect and expand on these regional takeaways, and to define which topics require specific guidance and support. Topics that affect historic cities beyond World Heritage processes, such as COVID-19 recovery, climate change, infrastructure, urban development and governance, livelihoods, tourism, etc. were addressed according to specific scenarios in each region.
A special focus was put on "Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience", the theme of the World Cities Day for 2021 (31 October), aiming to provide a space for site managers and focal points to present and elaborate ideas and strategies for Climate Action and implementing the HUL approach when facing these issues. The impacts of Climate Change and extreme-weather events on World Heritage cities were also discussed. Participants shared their thoughts on the challenges and possibilities of using the HUL Approach as a tool for sustainable development. Discussions put a specific focus on urban processes and tools, and how the HUL Recommendation can be used in each region.