Urban Agenda Partnership for Culture and Cultural Heritage

Wed 9, October 2019
16:30 - 19:00 CET

Created in November 2018 under the Urban Agenda of the EU, the Partnership for Culture and Cultural Heritage has the objective of defining Actions to improve the legislation, the financial capacity and the data exchange for Urban Authorities at the EU level.

Europe is now experiencing a general decline in the quality of the built environment and open landscapes in urban and peri-urban spaces that affect the sense of belonging to a common European area.

Promoting culture and preserving the quality of urban landscape heritage is not an objective in itself, but it is rather a powerful tool aimed at achieving social, ecological and economic goals.

This awareness brings the knowledge that high quality natural and built heritage contributes to the formation of more sustainable and inclusive societies, respectful of cultural diversity, social equity and cohesion, individual and community well-being and –last but not least- stronger economic performance and higher quality of life. Awareness of cultural heritage in human settlements should be considered as a priority at local and European level in order to develop new ways to protect and promote our common cultural values and identities.

The idea of the Participatory Lab is to illustrate and test the 6 topics we have identify and possible cross-cutting Actions.

All members of the Partnership will attend the Participatory Lab to exchange visions and to consult a broader range of relevant stakeholders (i.e. OECD, UN-HABITAT, UNESCO, representative of other initiatives on cultural heritage funded by Horizon 2020, etc.) and cities who will be invited to participate to gather their feedback on possible actions, exchange visions and investigate possible positive complementarities.

Laura Colini, URBACT expert, URBACT, Germany.
Giuliana De Francesco, Responsible for the European Relations, Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Italy.
Sandra Gizdulich, Expert on Urban & Territorial Policies and Programmes, Agency for the Territorial Cohesion (the National Governmental Agency dealing with ESI Funds), Italy.
Urban Agenda Segretariat, Unit of Urban Agenda Coordination for the European Commission, Ecorys, Netherlands.
Antonio Caponetto, General Director, Agency for the Territorial Cohesion (the National Governmental Agency dealing with ESI Funds), Italy.
Giuliana De Francesco, Responsible for the European Relations, Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Italy.
Gabriele Kautz, Head of Unit, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community, Germany.
Giorgio Martini, head of the Urban Unit, Managing Authority of the National Operational Programme for Metropolitan Cities, Agency for the Territorial Cohesion (the National Governmental Agency dealing with ESI Funds), Italy.
Pia Petrangeli, Secretariat General Coordination - Unesco Office, Ministry for Cultural Heritage, Italy.
Participatory Lab - world café, ideas labs
A Europe Closer to Citizen
Agency for the Territorial Cohesion
English (EN)

Session summary

The Urban Agenda Partnership for Culture and Cultural Heritage for the EU finalised its preparatory work and presented its orientation paper at a participatory lab. The partnership focuses on the role of cultural heritage as a resource for urban development with all its social, ecological and economic dimensions. The partnership "tested" its topics, key issues and challenges, exchanged visions and investigated possible positive overlapping with other initiatives in a broader context. The vision and framework the partners defined so far was opened to a broader audience of relevant stakeholders (e.g. UNESCO, ICOMOS, Universities, NGOs, practitioners of the European Year of Cultural Heritage) and other institutions interested.

Main conclusions:


The issue of balancing the benefits of tourism between the attractiveness of touristic and cultural sites and the residents of those areas is the bottom-line discussion.

Creative and cultural industries

This topic deals with how supporting and fostering the economic urban framework composed by small enterprises focused on both traditional and innovative urban identity and heritage preservation.

Transformation, adaptive reuse and urban reconversion

The partnership focused on two aspects that have to be considered for sustainable development across its social, ecological and economic dimensions:

to preserve spaces and buildings with their rich history, and to consider the local population's needs, strengthen existing local identities by involving them in the use of heritage as a collective good.

Financial sustainability

There is a lack of integrated investment tools oriented to cultural urban enhancement. Business plans that merge different components of urban organisation (infrastructures, local services, social and economic stakeholders) are needed as well as tools for shared management and intervention of cultural heritage assets.

Resilience of cultural and natural heritage

More best practice analysis and implementation of pilot projects in the field of risk preparedness and risk/heritage management have to be brought up (possible result/outcome: handbook for actions at local level). Bottom-up processes at local level should be encouraged. Valorisation of research should be the guiding principle.

Integrated and interdisciplinary approaches for governance

Mapping and analysing existing governance models is necessary, especially those that ensure sound management and monitoring of how cultural heritage can be embedded in the life of a city and how various aspects (strategic considerations, investments, management aspects) can be tackled in a coherent and integrated way.

Cultural services and culture for inclusive cities

Peer-learning (physical, virtual – i.e. online, other possible forms of exchanges) for local authorities and local stakeholders on cultural participation, including tailored coaching, external experts and focusing on how to adjust possible solutions rather than replicate 1:1. Specific actions are necessary to help with data collection – toolkits, guidelines, best practices, etc.

In the future, considering the discussion during the EWRC event the partnership will identify the actions necessary to develop the action plan to better support the implementation of appropriate cultural heritage protection projects as a means to foster sound and sustainable urban development processes.



Take away message

We believe that culture and cultural heritage can be very important for promoting balanced, aware, effective and inclusive development in large European cities, and in small cities and territories with fragile economies.

This conviction is shared by a vast partnership, comprising EC directorates, international organisations, research bodies, Member States, regional/territorial organisations and municipalities working together, in a joint and multilevel context, to find tools, solutions and strategies aimed at urban policies based on enhancing culture and cultural heritage

Louise Haxthausen, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels and UNESCO Representative to the European Union


Gregor Hitzfeld, ICOMOS, Secretary General of ICOMOS Germany, EU-relation officer of the Landesdenkmalamt Berlin