Experts discussed the effective management of UNESCO World Heritage sites


2021 06 11


The Ministry of Culture together with the Secretariat of the Lithuanian National Commission for UNESCO organised a seminar, World Heritage in Lithuania: Toward Effective Management.

During the two-day online event, topics of discussion included the meaning and principles of management plans for UNESCO World Heritage sites, the importance of preparing such plans, and sharing of practical experience.

The importance of considering and resolving these issues, among the most comprehensive concerning UNESCO World Heritage, was emphasised in keynote speeches by Minister of Culture Simonas Kairys, Minister of Environment Simonas Gentvilas and Minister of Agriculture Kęstutis Navickas.

Lithuania takes pride in having four World Heritage sites of outstanding value to humanity: Vilnius Historic Centre, Curonian Spit, Kernavė Archaeological Site (Cultural Reserve of Kernavė) and Struve Geodetic Arc. Lithuania has also submitted a nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for inclusion of Kaunas Modernist Architecture on the World Heritage List.

“World Heritage sites are a living, dynamic organism, which needs an adaptive response to never-ending changes, at the same time creating conditions for monitoring valuable sites and the continuity of preservation. It can undoubtedly be said that only the active involvement of the local community, local government, and all stakeholders which have an interest in the growth and improvement of a World Heritage site can ensure the preservation of cultural heritage for future generations and the benefit of local residents,” said Vice-Minister of Culture Rimantas Mikaitis, noting that this seminar is a significant step in preparing the national guidelines for the cultural heritage site management plans and systems.

A number of experts with international experience shared their insights and examples of best practice in the seminar, including Jane Thompson (Italy), Professor Yonca Erkan (Turkey), Prof. Michael Turner and Jeremie Hoffmann (Israel), Donovan Rypkema (USA) and Gerd Johanne Valen (Norway). The experts also discussed the particularities of the content of management plans for UNESCO World Heritage sites, implementation measures, integration of the provisions of the Agenda for Sustainable Development related to sustainable environmental development, the historic urbanistic townscape and other aspects, the importance of communicating with local communities and participative management, and the benefits of cultural heritage preservation for the local economy.

In a practical breakout session for World Heritage site managers and representatives of related state and municipal institutions, joint tasks were performed together, promoting cooperation among various stakeholders and a better understanding of what challenges await in the process of preparing site management plans, and laying the foundation for more harmonious dialogue in the future.

Sigita Bugenienė presented the experience of Kaunas City Municipality in preparing the nomination of Kaunas Modernism, sharing useful practical insights into the content of a management plan, and drawing attention to the most important elements related to the condition of preservation of heritage sites, SWOT analysis, the legal basis for management plans, and other aspects.

The knowledge and practical tips gained during the seminar will be put to use this year, preparing the National Guidelines for Cultural Heritage Site Management Plans and Systems, to be approved by the Minister of Culture. The guidelines will implement the provisions of the Cultural Heritage Preservation and Actualisation Policy Conception and the 2020–2024 action plan.

In the photograph courtesy of Marius Morkevičius (ELTA): the Curonian Spit, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.