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New Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape


On 10 November 2011 UNESCO’s General Conference adopted the new Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape by acclamation, the first such instrument on the historic environment issued by UNESCO in 35 years. The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape will not replace existing doctrines or conservation approaches; rather, it is an additional tool to integrate policies and practices of conservation of the built environment into the wider goals of urban development in respect of the inherited values and traditions of different cultural contexts. This tool, which is a “soft-law” to be implemented by Member States on a voluntary basis.

In order to facilitate implementation, the UNESCO General Conference recommended that Member States take the appropriate steps to:

  • adapt this new instrument to their specific contexts;
  • disseminate it widely across their national territories;
  • facilitate implementation through formulation and adoption of supporting policies; and to
  • monitor its impact on the conservation and management of historic cities.

It further recommended that Member States and relevant local authorities identify within their specific contexts the critical steps to implement the Historic Urban Landscape approach, which may include the following: 

  • To undertake comprehensive surveys and mapping of the city’s natural, cultural and human resources;
  • To reach consensus using participatory planning and stakeholder consultations on what values to protect for transmission to future generations and to determine the attributes that carry these values;
  • To assess vulnerability of these attributes to socio-economic stresses and impacts of climate change;
  • To integrate urban heritage values and their vulnerability status into a wider framework of city development, which shall provide indications of areas of heritage sensitivity that require careful attention to planning, design and implementation of development projects;
  • To prioritize actions for conservation and development;
  • To establish the appropriate partnerships and local management frameworks for each of the identified projects for conservation and development, as well as to develop mechanisms for the coordination of the various activities between different actors, both public and private.

The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape was adopted on 10 November 2011 at the 36th session of the General Conference. The Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, including a glossary of definitions can be found from [here].

You can download the Recommendation in 6 languages HERE.

World Heritage Cities Programme

The World Heritage Cities Programme is one of six thematic programmes formally approved and monitored by the World Heritage Committee. It aims to assist States Parties in the challenges of protecting and managing their urban heritage. 

The programme is structured along a two-way process, with 1) the development of a theoretical framework for urban heritage conservation, and 2) the provision of technical assistance to States Parties for the implementation of new approaches and schemes.

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Photo: Lijiang ©