European Week of Regions and Cities
7-10 OCTOBER 2019 Brussels

Sustainability and cultural heritage: is this the only way forward?

Loving it to death? Historic centres must be living, vibrant places for both residents and tourists. How do we balance the needs of the tourist economy with reducing environmental impact? How can authorities keep monuments safe, accessible and deliver on conservation objectives? In a TED-style talk, sustainability expert Andy Fryers discusses how competing and sometimes conflicting demands can be managed using innovative, sustainable methods appropriate for urban settings, involving not only institutions dealing with cultural heritage, but also stakeholders in transport, tourism, services and local government. He draws his findings from the European Year of Cultural Heritage-labelled SHARE project: interregeurope.eu/share

 

EURegions talks
Territorial development (regional, urban, rural)
Sviluppumbria

Session summary

The event started as scheduled and ran a minute or two over its allotted 30 minutes. Chiara Dall’Aglio introduced the session by noting 1) that pressures of tourism can affect even lower-profile destinations (illustrating the idea with a photo provided by SHARE partner City of Sibenik, showing a large cruise ship nearly dwarfing the town); and 2) that not only tourists bring pressure to urban cultural heritage sites, events can also bring crowds of residents to venues.

Andy Fryers began by defining some terms: cultural heritage, urban cultural heritage sites, and sustainability, and observing that sustainable management of cultural heritage is of fundamental importance for the well-being of four “stakeholder” groups: residents, tourists, businesses and “heritage professionals”, such as museum employees, archaeologists, etc. The talk developed with an exploration of how SHARE project partners address the question of sustainability. Andy described some practices, illustrated by photos, of the reuse/repurposing of heritage sites, accessibility for differently-abled visitors, data management and mapping, use of electric vehicles for mass transit, using e-bikes and e-cargobikes for the last mile of deliveries, an Urban Lab being tested in Umbria to foster exchanges among public administration and technical staff in different cities, and planning for “smart shrinkage” to seize opportunities and manage challenges as cities cycle from geographical expansion to contraction.

Andy concluded by arguing that cultural heritage can and should open up to respond to the demands placed on it by residents and visitors. It must be protected and reinforced to withstand the pressures placed upon it. Education, communication and collaboration are the necessary elements to make cultural heritage management more resilient.

Sviluppumbria used the wifi connection to live-stream the event on the SHARE project Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shareprojecteurope/videos/1554022608076929/) , and also published the recording for public viewing. A link to this was also published on the SHARE page: https://www.interregeurope.eu/share/news/news-article/4160/watch-the-share-eu-week-of-regions-talk/

The audience were engaged with the talk (we observed that many were taking notes). There were a few questions, and a number of people picked up SHARE project flyers as they left the room. The video on Facebook had already over 100 views the first day after its publication and over 500 within the first week of posting.

Take away message

Sustainable management of cultural heritage conerns four stakeholder groups: residents, tourists, businesses and heritage site professionals. Some aspects of sustainable management include reuse/repurposing of heritage sites, accessibility, data management, electric vehicles for mass transit, e-cargobikes for the last mile problem, fostering cooperation among levels of public administration dealing with cultural heritage, and planning for “smart shrinkage” to seize opportunities and manage challenges as cities contract.

The keys to keeping cultural heritage sustainable, resilient and accessible are education, communication and collaboration.



Participating in the EU Regions Week as a speaker was a great experience, providing the opportunity to meet professionals from across Europe and to discuss some of the key issues facing us all.

Participating in the EU Regions Week as a speaker was a great experience, providing the opportunity to meet professionals from across Europe and to discuss some of the key issues facing us all.

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