OWHC 8th World Symposium, Cusco 2005

In collaboration with the OWHC and the City of Cusco, the GCI organized the scientific track of the OWHC 8th World Symposium, held in Cusco, Peru, September 19–23, 2005. The GCI was helped by a scientific committee and worked closely with the board of the OWHC.

More than 1,150 people participated in the World Symposium. Of that number, 650 were students who followed the presentations and the debates via a closed-circuit video system. The theme proposed by the OWHC and developed by the GCI was "Heritage of Humanity, Heritage with Humanity." The important issues discussed by the participants concerned the participation of citizens in the conservation efforts of their cities, the intangible heritage associated with historic cities, and the quality of the visitors' experience in World Heritage Cities.

Scientific Track Sessions

The scientific track sessions were organized in a way to provide each participant with the opportunity to share his/her experience in small group discussions. The sessions began with a guest speaker making an introductory presentation on each sub-theme in plenary, which was translated into the three official languages of the OWHC—English, French, and Spanish. The room was then subdivided into three smaller rooms, one for each official language. Participants were invited to move to one of these rooms where short presentations of case studies were made by a mayor of a World Heritage City and a conservation professional. A mayor of a World Heritage City also moderated each session.

Following each presentation, the participants were asked to discuss key questions. This guided the debates, the key ideas of which participants could use in preserving heritage cities. Three rapporteurs summarized and organized all these ideas and shared them with the participants at the end of the scientific sessions. A number of participants expressed appreciation both for the format of the sessions, which encouraged discussion, and the presentation of the conclusions by the rapporteurs.

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Pre-symposium Introductory Course for Newly Elected Mayors

This workshop was created at the initiative of the GCI to address a serious concern expressed by the OWHC: How can we ensure that newly elected mayors of World Heritage Cities have a good understanding of their responsibilities to preserve this heritage and to pass it on to the next generations? The GCI proposed that an introductory workshop be offered to newly elected mayors every time the OWHC holds an international symposium. Cusco was the first opportunity for such a workshop, which was jointly designed by the OWHC and the GCI.

Twenty-two mayors participated in the one-day workshop. It was geared to two kinds of mayors of World Heritage cities: 1) those newly elected, who would benefit from learning about the responsibilities they have, and about the resources at their disposal; and 2) mayors whose experiences protecting historic sites prompt them to learn more about where they can turn for help as they continue to confront conservation-related challenges. Both types of mayors were welcome to join the workshop, where they learned from experts as well as from each other.

The workshop was conducted in English and Spanish and was divided into three parts.

The first part consisted of brief presentations that addressed questions such as: Why should a mayor bother with cultural heritage conservation?, What are a mayor's responsibilities vis-á-vis cultural heritage?, and Where can a mayor turn for practical help in finding solutions for common problems?

The second part of the workshop focused on the mayors' own experiences with problems and solutions concerning cultural heritage protection. The discussions not only helped mayors share their personal perspectives about conservation challenges, but also helped participants become better acquainted with one another. Rather than finding a single recipe for effective action, mayors sampled a variety of approaches and methods. This discussion can be summed up in three points:

  1. There are tensions between the various levels of governments concerning the authority and responsibility to deal with issues.
  2. There are tensions between the economic realities and the political decisions that need to be made.
  3. Because residents are the soul of a city, they should be involved in decisions concerning heritage issues.

The third part of the workshop focused on a case study site within the host city of Cusco. In the vicinity of San Pedro church, mayors observed firsthand a series of issues associated with cultural heritage conservation. In the area of the municipal market, the streets had been taken over by vendors, creating difficult social conditions. The municipality decided to work with the residents to improve the area by creating a group to represent the vendors, building a new market and retail area, and offering the vendors a new structured and organized retail environment.

In the course of discussions about how local Cusqueños are addressing social and conservation issues, mayors learned more about the questions posed earlier in the day. The workshop culminated in a brief evaluation session.

Participants considered the workshop useful because it stimulated discussion and offered a good platform for understanding general principles and viewing concrete examples.

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