Let us face it:  some still see conservation and management of cultural heritage as rich countries’ luxuries, beyond bread-and-butter development needs; or as vehicles to promote western concepts of what should be regarded as beautiful and precious and, therefore, worth preserving. Are the proponents of that understanding on the right track?

Not so. Let us go to quotes by Irina Bukova, Director General of UNESCO, which manages the 120 member 1972 World Heritage Convention:

Heritage does not represent luxury; it is a capital investment  in the future. It is the sound foundation without which  nothing lasting  can be  built. Disregarding heritage, severing our root, will inevitably clip our wings.” (1)

Cultural heritage is the way  we understand the world and the means by which we shape it. It is rooted in our cultural identities and provides a source of wisdom and knowledge to strengthen sustainable development policies and practices” (2)

Heritage stands at the crossroads of climate change, social transformations and processes of reconciliation between peoples. Heritage carries high stakes – for the identity and belonging of peoples, for the sustainable economic and social development of communities.” (3)

Readers’ comments are welcome.


(1) Irina Bukova, UNESCO Director General, address to Preparing the Way to Sustainable Development After Rio+20: Forum on Science Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development, 27 June 2012
(2) Irina Bukova, foreword to World heritage – Benefits beyond borders, UNESCO, Cambridge University Press, 2012, p.ix-x.
(3) Irina Bukova, opening address to the General Assembly of the State parties at the  World Heritage Convention, 7 Nov. 2011
These quotes appeared in the book World heritage – Benefits beyond borders, UNESCO, Cambridge University Press, 2012:  (2) p. ix-x; (1)and (3): p. 325-326