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Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)

Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), proposed by Japan as a best practice, is interesting as a case study for the following aspects: New landscape policy, long-term view
Summary provided by State Party

“Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto” is one of the most typical World Heritage sites situated in urban context. Although its component parts are limited to temples, shrines and a castle, it is quite crucial to protect its surrounding context as well as the property itself in an integrated manner, in order to transmit its Outstanding Universal Value to the future generations. In this context, while continuing activities to preserve the sites and monuments of the inscribed properties, the local authority (Kyoto city) introduced a new landscape policy in 2007. In the face of a society declining in population, and based upon understanding that the city has entered an age of city competition where each city appeals to its uniqueness to vie for allure as a city, the new policy is aimed to conserve and improve its landscape in order to generate a new added value of enhancement to its city character and allure. It would result in increased residence and population for interaction, concentration of excellent human resources, investment growth in local industry, tourist industry, knowledge based industry, etc. Under this broader and long-term view, the new landscape controlling policy has been set in order to preserve its unique urban landscape.

The new landscape policy comprises 5 main elements and the support systems. To implement these measures in Kyoto City, a broad range of city planning and ordinance were changed. The 5 main elements are as follows, 1) building Height, 2) design of buildings, 3) surrounding scenery and vistaed view, 4) outdoor advertisements and, 5) historical streets. Furthermore, Kyoto city has kept continuing efforts to improve this wholistic scheme concerning better communication between relevant authorities and local populations, better design standard for new construction, and more efficient implementation. This new scheme would be a “best practice” to other WH sites in urban context in many aspect, including: Integrated approach for conserving historic urban landscape; Using existing and/or new legal and institutional tools in one concept; Implementing public involvement in a huge modern city, and; Protecting surrounding context in connection with the OUV of the WH property.

In conclusion, “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto” should be one of the best practices, because it would be an advanced case in the context of historic urban conservation against broad issues in the modern city, which could cause of irreversible damage of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property.

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.