The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is an important international treaty that has for almost 50 years played a major role in expanding heritage legislation worldwide and identifying and promoting the protection of a growing list of the World’s most unique sites – both cultural and natural. Sadly, today however, this instrument is becoming a victim of its own success. OURWORLDHERITAGE seeks to renew the original spirit and mission of the World Heritage Convention, by engaging citizens, civil society groups and professional and academic organizations.

The current implementation of the World Heritage Convention today does not achieve a true alighment between protection of Outstanding Universaal Value and sustainable development objectives, allowing misinterpretaitons of the latter to undermine the former. An improved understanding and practice of interpreting, assessing and managing development in WH sites is urgently needed to remedy this situation. 

With this objective, the OurWorldHeritage Sustainability Team organized an intensive month of Debate on Sustainability and Heritage, illustrating the challenges and solutions for integrating heritage and sustainable development, to explore the key concepts of sustainability in World Heritage: People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace. We explored how development processes can be reconfigured to reflect the contribution of heritage conservation, in a more sustainable form of development grounded in Outstanding Universal Value, managed with transparency, dialogue and understanding.

This month-long debate covered a variety of themes, from heritage interpretation to landscape, from Indegenous heritage to climate change, from social capital and participation to alternative economic and governance models, and the involvement of youth, as well as a wide selection of case studies to provide insights and lessons from practice. 

Finally, we have reached the last day of the Debate month. In this final session, we aim to present a synthesis of the regional recommendations arising from the case studies, as well as key points from the month’s debates, to contribute to policy recommendations for the 50th Anniversary of UNESCO Convention. This is also an invitation to leaders of international organizations that work for heritage to debate and agree on policy recommendations for a better synergy between heritage and sustainability.

Ege Yildirim, Jana Das Chaudhuri, Lucia Pesci

Ege Yildirim, Independent Heritage Planner (Coordinator of the OWH Sustainability Debate)
Urban planner specializing in cultural heritage conservation and management, with 20+ years experience in Turkey and internationally. Interest areas include sustainable development, site management, governance and policy. Graduate of Middle East Technical University (1998), University of York (1999), Ankara University (2012), Fulbright Scholar- Pratt Institute (2006-07).

Lucia Pesci, Vice-President of FLACAM (Foro Latinoamericano de Ciencias Ambientales) (Convener of the OWH Sustainability Debate)
Executive Vice President and Academic Coordinator of FLACAM / Latin American Forum of Environmental Sciences – UNESCO Chair / Unitwin Network for Sustainable Development. Vice President of the CEPA Foundation (Centers for Environmental Studies and Projects). Director of Consultora CEPA S.A. She is also Technical Secretary of the Chair in Sustainability Policies UNLP and teacher of the Specialization and Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development developed by FLACAM, together with UNLa (National University of Lanús, Argentina)

Patricia O’Donnell, President of OurWorldHeritage Foundation  
PLA, FASLA, AICP, F.US/ICOMOS, preservation landscape architect and urban planner, founded Heritage Landscapes LLC in 1987. Patricia has contributed to ASLA, ICOMOS, IFLA, OurWorldHeritage and UNESCO World Heritage to advance the valued landscape cultural and natural heritage of diverse places and peoples in the USA and around the globe.

Maaike Goedkoop, Secretary General of OurWorldHeritage Foundation 
Urban Planner, focussed on Heritage and Environmental Impact Assessment, Scientific Assistant at Chair for the History and Theory of Urban Design, ETH Zürich.

Christina Cameron, former Chair of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (OWH co-founder and Advisory Committee member) 
A professor at the University of Montreal (Canada) from 2005 to 2019, Christina Cameron directed a research program on heritage conservation. She previously served with Parks Canada for more than thirty-five years, chairing the World Heritage Committee in 1990 and 2008.

Haifaa Abdulhalem, Consultant in Natural Heritage Management (Co-Convener of OWH Information Technology Debate) 
World Heritage For All initiative, Jordan. Haifaa had worked for IUCN more than 12 years, managing their activities in the Arab States and Iran. She has extensive experience in capacity building and the provision of quality technical advice on all aspects of World Heritage.

Michael Turner, Bezalel University, Jerusalem (OWH co-founder and Advisory Committee member)
Professor Michael Turner is an architect, the UNESCO Chairholder in Urban Design and Conservation Studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. Involved in teaching and research he is advisor to the World Heritage Centre.

Jana Das Chaudhuri, Architect and Heritage Management Professional (Member of the OWH Sustainability Debate Team)
Jana Das Chaudhuri is an architect and heritage management professional with experience of twenty years in both private and public sector in India in the field of urban heritage. While in the Delhi Development Authority, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, she worked in close collaboration with national and international agencies in dealing with heritage management and policy issues that surrounded the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Delhi. Jana has conceptualized Institute of Heritage Research, a think tank for policy research on heritage management and working towards building the institution.

Welcome and Opening of the Session: Ege Yildirim 
Outcomes of the Sustainability Debate: case studies recommendations and highlights from sessions: Lucia Pesci 
Roundtable: Perspectives on Integrating Heritage with Sustainability
Christina Cameron 
Haifaa Abdulhalem  
Michael Turner 
Maaike Goedkoop 
Patricia O’Donnell 
Q&A and discussion with moderator and rapporteur