The Getty Conservation Institute collaborated with the Organization of World Heritage Cites (OWHC) on its eighth biennial symposium, "Heritage of Humanity, A Heritage with Humanity," held in September 2005 in Cuzco, Peru. The GCI developed the symposium's scientific sessions and a one-day presymposium workshop on heritage preservation for newly elected mayors and newly appointed decision makers of World Heritage Cities. The symposium was attended by five hundred participants, including approximately seventy mayors of World Heritage cities. In addition, more than six hundred local university students participated via a live video feed.

The presymposium workshop began with brief presentations that addressed issues relevant to newly installed mayors: Why should a mayor be concerned with cultural heritage conservation? What are a mayor's responsibilities vis-à-vis cultural heritage? Where can a mayor find practical solutions for common problems? By posing these questions, the workshop intended to underscore the relationship between conservation principles and action.

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The second part of the workshop focused on the mayors' own experiences concerning cultural heritage protection and concluded with a case study site in Cuzco. In discussing how Cusqueños address social and conservation issues, mayors learned more about the questions posed earlier in the day, and they became familiar with some of the conservation issues facing the city.

The scientific sessions generated extensive discussion among participants, which was achieved through a unique symposium format. Guest speakers presented participants with the three topics:

  • citizen participation in the revitalization of World Heritage Cities—successes and failures;
  • intangible heritage in a World Heritage City—identifying and supporting it; and
  • hosting tourists in World Heritage Cities—how to reconcile the needs of the residents.

After topics were introduced, participants were divided into working groups based on the symposium's official languages—English, French, and Spanish—to facilitate discussion. While in these small groups, participants were presented with two case studies on each of the topics—one from the perspective of a World Heritage City mayor and the second from the perspective of a conservation professional. Participants then engaged in a rigorous discussion of the issues raised in the case studies.

Rapporteurs gathered the extensive comments from each of these small group sessions and, at the symposium's conclusion, presented concise analysis of the ideas expressed. Additionally, commentary from the university students participating remotely was shared with symposium participants.

In addition to shedding light on three important current topics in conservation, the symposium provided a model for generating debate about these issues. The event was also innovative for working with newly elected mayors on crucial challenges facing their cities and for including students among the participants.

For analysis of the ideas presented at the symposium or for additional information on the OWHC, visit its Web site.