1 Introduction

Heritage creates identity. This is the message of eminent scientists behind UNESCO’s founding ideas including the concept of peace, such as structural ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and Norbert Elias, co-founder of critical sociology. Consequently, based on this message, individuals and societies are responsible for the sustainable safeguarding of their heritage. Therefore, the sustainable protection of heritage is also the focus of significant international policy documents such as charters, declarations or conventions.

The UN General Assembly in New York had already adopted the most vital commitment in 1948 – the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (United Nations, 1948). Considering the diversity of the world regions, further political statements must be mentioned. The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted the “Social Charter of the Americas” on 20 September 2012 in Cochabamba, Bolivia (Organization of American States, 2012); the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) adopted the “2000 Asean Declaration on Cultural Heritage” on 25 July 2000 in Bangkok, Thailand (ASEAN, 2000); the African Union adopted the “Charter for African Cultural Renaissance” on 24 January 2006 in Khartoum, Sudan (African Union, 2006); the Council of Europe adopted the “Faro Convention” on 27 October 2005 in Faro, Portugal (Council of Europe, 2005); the General Conference of UNESCO adopted the “Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage” in 2003, which reflects on the function of intangible heritage for sustainability (UNESCO, 2003).

The sustainable protection of heritage has also been the focus of several academic publications. Examples include “UNESCO World Heritage and the SDGs – Interdisciplinary Perspectives” (von Schorlemer et al., 2020), “World Heritage and Sustainable Development: New Directions in World Heritage Management” (Larsen & Logan, 2018), “World Heritage Conservation: The World Heritage Convention, Linking Culture and Nature for Sustainable Development” (Cave & Negussie, 2017), “Theory and Practice in Heritage and Sustainability: Between Past and Future (Auclair & Fairclough, 2015) and “40 Years World Heritage Convention: Popularizing the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage” (Albert & Ringbeck, 2015). However, it is the message of the most successful convention for the protection of the heritage of humankind, the “World Heritage Convention”, which is the particular focus of this publication. It indicates that the destruction of the heritage of humankind is multidimensional and, as the preamble of the Convention says, “the deterioration or disappearance of any item of the cultural and natural heritage constitutes a harmful impoverishment of the heritage of all the nations of the world” (UNESCO, 1972). Following this view, as already said, individuals and societies are consequently responsible for the sustainable safeguarding of their heritage.

On the 16th of November, 2022, the World Heritage Convention is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The celebration of this birthday is the right time and the appropriate setting to reflect on whether the goals and content of the Convention have been implemented accordingly, and this is the critical reflection that we have undertaken with our book 50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared Responsibility – Conflict & Reconciliation. Among other important ideas, we reflect on the identity-building function of heritage, on the multidimensional conflicts and destruction of heritage and discuss conflict-solving strategies. These have been addressed at the various World Heritage Committee meetings over the years, and they have resulted in standard-setting instrumentsFootnote 1 and other policies focused on the diversity of problems according to the different types of sites and the damage they suffer in the changing world. An important political statement on these developments and needed responses were expressed in the “Policy Document for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO, 2015).

Concerning the different types of conflicts and corresponding solving strategies presented in the book, we refer on the one hand to political “recommendations”Footnote 2 or “declarations”Footnote 3 or other standard-setting instruments, which have been adopted over time. On the other hand, we encouraged the authors to develop theoretical visions and practical proposals. We identified some well-known conflicts that have been considered in the above-mentioned documents, for example, the conflicts and challenges arising from the transformation of cities and their historic environment. Such conflicts have been addressed, for example, in the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL), adopted by UNESCO in 2011. This document is also relevant to several questions concerning technological change. However, technological change has not yet become the core of a specific policy.

There is also a lack of a specific policy dedicated to the increasing devaluation of World Heritage through commodification. Several processes are associated with this devaluation, such as those resulting from tourism development with damaging effects, for example, on infrastructure and other facilities of historic urban landscapes. The recovery from this threat is also recommended through HUL. Nevertheless, until today, commodification as a complex mechanism in the World Heritage system has not been recognized as a threat. If at all, the dangers have been considered in formal reports on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties. Interesting developments in the political treatment of damage caused by armed conflicts or natural hazards have been addressed recently in the “Warsaw Recommendation on Recovery and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage”, which also proposes strategies that may lead to reconciliation (UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 2017).

In addition to standard-setting instruments, we also reflect on future perspectives in terms of implementing Agenda 2030, where the responsibility of humans, in general, has been defined in 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These are more or less mirrored in all of the chapters of this book. Last but not least, we reflect on and discuss theoretical and practical concepts of responsibility, reconciliation, sustainability and education.

The protection of World Heritage requires knowledge of potential conflicts and their avoidance and appropriate implementation strategies. As explained above, such strategies hardly exist so far. Furthermore, the conflicts have changed over time, and suitable mediation and conflict-avoiding strategies have not been transmitted. Knowledge of heritage protection and how it should be accomplished must be developed and implemented in a participatory and sustainable manner. This was the aim of our project in producing this book. The project was developed through think tanks, in which potential conflicts threatening our World Heritage and possible solutions were presented and discussed. The book was developed further through a conference where we selected and highlighted the topics presented in the publication. In the book, based on these steps, we first identify the various forms of heritage destruction and analyse their causes. Only through knowledge of the reasons, backgrounds and intentions of heritage destruction can short-, medium- and long-term responsibilities be defined and sustainable protection strategies be developed and implemented. Thus, the book also explores the development of conflict avoiding and solving strategies based on integrating heritage into an overall human development strategy, namely the Agenda 2030.

Today, 1154 sites in 167 countriesFootnote 4 are inscribed on the World Heritage list. Of these, nearly 50% are in Europe. The rest of the world shares the other 50%. An unbalanced distribution is also evident in the inscription of cultural and natural heritage; this imbalance is why the inscription procedure defined in the Operational Guidelines and, primarily, the international community’s consciousness must be changed. Over time, some improvements – like the Global Strategy and the 5 C’s, specifically the initiative to involve communities – have been implemented; however, the conflicts have not been avoided or even resolved.Footnote 5 Looking at the sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in Danger, the distribution of inscriptions is the opposite. Of the 52 sites in danger worldwide, 21 cultural (UNESCO, n.d.-b) sites are in Arab States and 15 (4 cultural and 11 natural) in Africa. Of these cultural sites, some in Mali, Iraq or the Syrian Arab Republic have been damaged by attacks during war, while most have been damaged due to poorly managed disasters or illegal activities (UNESCO, n.d.-b).

In addition to the war-related destruction, which also affects the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of natural sites, African natural World Heritage sites are in particular danger due to various development projects, mining and illegal activities. On the one hand, these activities consist of poaching important and partly endangered mammals or illegal fishing. On the other hand, there is forest clearing and the mining of ores, gold, oil etc. Most of these activities require infrastructural developments that also affect the OUV. For many people in Africa, these are long overdue developments. In the context of UNESCO World Heritage, there are hardly any solutions.Footnote 6 This means that the future perspective of World Heritage must include not only the analyses of the causes of heritage in danger but also strategies to overcome this unbalanced distribution of sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and the World Heritage List in Danger.

However, our interest is not focused on the properties currently on the World Heritage List in Danger. As our perspective is the future, we need to reflect upon the overall and worldwide social, cultural, economic and ecological developments that the heritage of humanity is currently facing. Based on the concept of identifying conflicts, developing resolving strategies and perceiving the future through the integration of heritage into the Agenda 2030, we reflect upon the overall conflicts endangering heritage. However, determining responsibility, reconciliation and sustainability is as important as analysing the causes of conflicts and is discussed in detail in the section “The Day After Tomorrow”.

2 Diversity

The adoption of the World Heritage Convention on the 16th of November 1972 was based on the internationally communicated concern to sustainably preserve, for future generations, cultural and natural heritage with an exceptional and universal value. Its creation goes back to the 1920s in the cultural field, “continued after the Second World War with an added focus on natural resources protection” (Cameron & Rössler, 2013, 1) and was finally triggered by the destruction of the temples of Abu Simbel due to the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

As already mentioned, 1154 sites (2021) in 167 countries have been inscribed on the World Heritage list, which is not only a great success of the Convention but a testament to the world’s extraordinary cultural and natural diversity and the creative power of the world’s cultures. The diversity of World Heritage is therefore already given quantitatively. This also applies to the number of states in which World Heritage is designated. After all, 194 countriesFootnote 7 have ratified the Convention. There is also diversity in the justifications for inscriptions formulated by the states and the interpretations of the “properties” defined in Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention (UNESCO, 1972). Diversity is related to the respective types of World Heritage properties and the justifications for their structures or chosen materials, their architectural or technical design, their immaterial contexts, etc., which accompany the inscriptions; or, in the case of natural heritage, the unique qualities of their regional and national biological or geological characteristics. The characteristics of properties are influenced by environmental, political, social, cultural or economic developments and arise from the diversity of the sites themselves; for example, from how they came to be and how they need to be preserved in a correspondingly sustainable way. Diversity is, therefore, a central category with which we must assess the implementation of the World Heritage Convention over the past 50 years.

Consequently, diversity is also required in our book 50 Years World Heritage Convention: Shared ResponsibilityConflict & Reconciliation, in the presentation and interpretation of conflicts and in the presentation and discussion of solutions. This also applies to interpretations of the Convention’s mandate, as set out in Article 8 (UNESCO, 1972).Footnote 8 For example, there are distinct differences between advisory bodies that see their mandate as the conservation of World Heritage properties, such as the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), and communities around the world that hope World Heritage will enhance economic development processes. These, in turn, differ from the education and science target groups addressed by Article 27,Footnote 9 which prioritize the implementation of the Convention in the sense of international, transcultural and sustainable development for society as a whole, as intended, for example, with the 1994 Global Strategy (UNESCO, 1972).Footnote 10 In other words, we would like to emphasize this publication only refers to a selection from the broad spectrum of World Heritage interpretations and inscriptions. This is also the case for conflicts. At no time was our intention to name the totality of conflicts that developed for World Heritage due to the changing world over 50 years.

Knowing that conflicts and approaches to resolving them can also be overarching, we made an exemplary selection of six areas of conflict, which experts then interpreted and reflected upon based on conflict resolution or avoidance strategies. The selection was based on development processes of sustainable relevance across society, internationally and transculturally, which, accordingly, affect World Heritage. We are very aware that this is only a selection and that the discourse initiated here must be driven forward actively. We want to create an incentive to continue working on these topics through our book. We would also like to emphasize the cultural and scientific diversity – especially in the World Heritage context – intrinsic to the Convention itself. Therefore, we have not imposed uniform standards on the epistemological approaches to the interpretation or treatment of topics, which are culturally and contextually specific. The same applies to the use of scientific methods. In this respect, the book is diverse, both thematically and methodologically, precisely because of its international and scientific ambitions; we hope thereby to mobilize the broad spectrum of target groups that move in the context of World Heritage to protect their heritage and World Heritage through its sustainable use.

3 Conflict Areas

Heritage destruction has many facets and dimensions. Though heritage has been continuously destroyed over time through war and terrorism, climate change, technological change, modernization, commodification, international policies and urban transformation processes etc., the effects of those processes on peoples and societies have always been the same. The destruction of heritage destroys identity and impoverishes the heritage of all nations. Consequently, the book systematically identifies various forms of heritage destruction and analyses their causes within the following six conflict areas.

Global Governance

In a globalizing world, the system of the United Nations is the most important institutional arena for developing global standards that provide universal guidelines for national cultural policies, including World Heritage protection. Today, this form of international cooperation is challenged by a reinvigorated sense of national unilateralism and increasingly antagonistic geopolitical powerplays. Consequently, the ability of UN organizations such as UNESCO to manage conflicts and promote reconciliation in heritage issues is likely to weaken considerably in the long term.

Urban Transformation

Urban transformation and change in urban systems have occurred increasingly since the nineteenth century, when much of the rural population in many parts of the world began to migrate to cities, resulting in significant changes to their habitats and living conditions. Today, due to modernization, urbanization is one of the phenomena that encompasses urban and rural areas in many positive and negative ways. This chapter examines some of the impacts of transformation and change within the system of urban heritage and develops strategies to help address these impacts.

War and Terrorism

Heritage destruction resulting from acts of war and terrorism has become one of the key problems of the twenty-first century. By destroying monuments and other tangible heritage, terrorists and warring countries aim to destroy cultural heritage and identity and recruit followers to their revisionist ideology. However, the destruction of heritage for purposes of destroying identity is not a new phenomenon; on the contrary, it can be seen throughout history. Therefore, this chapter reflects upon the different aspects of heritage destruction in war and with terrorist intentions.

Climate Change

The phenomenon of climate change is as overarching as the previously presented phenomena. This means that it would be presumptuous to assume that all the effects of climate change on people’s tangible, intangible and natural heritage and their societies are already known fully. The sustainability of world heritage requires a dynamic approach to resilience and adaptation policies. This chapter includes reflections on the endangerment of cultural and natural heritage as a consequence of changing climate and extreme weather events and the associated disruption to society, economy and culture.

Technological Change

The urge for technological progress is an integral part of the human being and thus closely linked to the history of humankind. Many World Heritage Sites bear witness to the impressive technological achievements of different eras. On the one hand, there is a danger of abandoning structures and relics that have grown over centuries and therefore losing important parts of World Heritage. On the other hand, technological change always creates new possibilities and perspectives. Therefore, the chapter is dedicated to understanding technological change both as a threat to World Heritage and as an opportunity for its preservation.

Commodification of Heritage

Over time, the value of tangible and intangible heritage in peoples’ minds has changed fundamentally. This can be seen mainly in the change from heritage being valued as a cultural good to a product, or, in other words, the commodification of cultural heritage values in contrast to the goals defined in the cultural heritage conventions. Regrettably, neither the benefits nor the disadvantages of the commodification processes are known; they have not been reflected upon at all. Therefore, the variety of impacts of commodification processes on people and on the heritage of humankind itself have to be investigated.

4 The Contributions in Brief

Global Governance

Roland Bernecker and Nicole Franceschini focus on the World Heritage Convention in relation to global governance. The World Heritage Convention is increasingly exposed to criticism due to its “infection by politics”. The political dynamics of the World Heritage system reflect broader transformations in global governance. As an international organization, UNESCO has not escaped the continuous weakening of multilateralism. States parties to the 1972 Convention are becoming used to treating it mainly as a proxy for power and international conflict. The global narrative of World Heritage is slowly being corrupted. The authors argue that to understand developments in the World Heritage system, we need to develop a broader perception of the transformations in international relations and make the best use of the still-emerging concept of global governance.

The lifeways of indigenous peoples in their cultural and natural landscapes are a recurring theme in the World Heritage context, exacerbated by climate change and the human rights discourse. Against this backdrop, Irene Fogarty critically examines theoretical interpretations of indigenous peoples’ life expressions and their consideration in World Heritage documents. However, she also interprets practice. Notably, she demonstrates interpretations of “oral traditions” as “legacies” of colonial and Eurocentric history, explicitly commenting on the colonial legacy that still informs our scholarly thinking. The concluding case study on “Pimachiowin Aki” exemplifies her findings, which should be considered in future discourses on World Heritage.

In his paper, Eike Schmedt tackles the complex governance system of the World Heritage Convention, which includes many actors on various levels. He developed the World Heritage Site Index, a database that allows comparative assessments of properties, regardless of their typology; the index can show the governance structures that influence protection and offers perspectives on potential steps to ensure that the governance structures work in favour of conserving the sites. The World Heritage Site Index reveals the need for comprehensive legal frameworks, adequate resources and improved community involvement and stakeholder communication, and it validates the relevance of existing measures, such as the 5Cs.

The article compiled by Roland Bernecker and Nicole Franceschini presents several experts and young professionals’ personal reflections on global governance and its influence on the World Heritage Convention over 50 years. Webber Ndoro draws on the African experience to reflect upon the distinction between local and global forms of governance. Christina Cameron speaks about opportunities for more inclusive governance and the broader participation of varied stakeholders. Maritta Koch-Weser continues to reflect on opportunities, offering five recommendations for adjusting the system. Lynn Meskell builds her perspective around 5Cs developed by her to present the challenges to the workings of World Heritage. These views are complemented by a group of master’s students discussing the impact of civil society initiatives on the governance of the World Heritage system.

Urban Transformation

Urban transformation goes hand in hand with the development of human communities as a continuous process; this is the summary of the introductory paper by Christer Gustaffson and Matthias Ripp. In this respect, the conflicts that arise from urban transformation processes are also multidimensional. Some exemplary conflicts directly related to urban transformation and the World Heritage Convention are discussed. These include “over-tourism and gentrification” in particular, while other challenges such as climate change, war or terror are attributable to overall social developments. This chapter discusses how these challenges can be addressed in the context of urban transformation based on a “systemic approach”. Although the facets of this area of conflict can only be hinted at in this introduction, they shed light on the complex problem of urban transformation.

In her contribution, Mariko Ikeda deals with the vacancy of buildings in urban centres and the exposure of the heritage of historic old towns to various dangers. Her proposed solution is a “temporary use” of endangered buildings to enable preservation measures without substantial interventions in the material substance. In her theoretical justifications, she refers to a publication which analysed ten European countries. It focuses on Berlin, a city whose particular history shows ambivalent effects on the urban structure and on very diversely positioned actors such as the squatter movement and its political ambitions, alternative artist groups or people in need of housing in the former eastern part of the city after the fall of the Wall. The paper draws on case studies to highlight the spectra of short-term uses.

Zachary M. Jones deals with how festivalization in World Heritage cities can contribute to the sustainable development of such cities. The author is aware of the adverse effects of such events, which are explicitly mentioned but, for the professional discussion, it is relevant that they are related to the Historic Urban Landscape Approach (HUL). The author also formulates positive developments beyond tourism. He focuses on the intensification and improvement of the images of such cities and thus refers to ideal values. These are interpreted multidimensionally via images, making new attractions possible. This development has a new meaning for World Heritage, which enriches the material values and directs the perspective towards the future.

Dennis Rodwell engages with several objectives of heritage protection, the concept of sustainability, broadly defined by him and the representation and interpretation of urban heritage in the context of the World Heritage Convention. He further discusses how heritage is transformed in current development processes, for example, through relevant societal changes resulting from the adoption of the World Heritage Convention. The justifications behind the adoption of the Convention no longer grasp the current reality, as it can and must be illustrated by some of the central categories such as authenticity or integrity. The author deals with such developments and especially with processes of commodification of heritage. The discussion on the sustainable development of urban heritage versus an “orthodoxy of heritage” provides an intriguing new reflection.

The article by Jan Küver deals with the city and region of Iringa in Tanzania. This contribution is fundamental for the publication. With the “shared heritage” approach, which he introduces here for the sustainable development of urban landscapes in post-colonial societies, he anticipates a long overdue discourse in the context of World Heritage. This contribution is about the place and the region and especially the people and their development in Iringa, colonized by Germany in the late nineteenth century, whose diverse historical and contemporary experience the author addresses with the “shared heritage” approach. Jan Küver’s perspective on urban development is holistic and, as World Heritage discourse often has a colonial history, constitutes a forward-looking contribution to this vital period of history.

War and Terrorism

In his paper, Friedrich Schipper is concerned with the impacts of armed conflicts on the protection of cultural properties, including World Heritage. The author discusses the reasons behind acts of destruction and consequences for the direct communities. Often the reasons are typical of cultural cleansing, but the recent destruction of cultural property by Islamic terrorists shows a different pattern related to the interpretation and definition of Islam. Existing normative instruments, such as the UNESCO 1954 Hague Convention and its Second Protocol, have not been very successful, and the question of why these instruments fail to meet expectations remains unanswered. Nevertheless, research shows that the protection of World Heritage properties in areas of armed conflict cannot rely exclusively on expert opinion, and it requires the integration of military-compatible skills.

The destruction of heritage is the destruction of identity and the past to achieve new power structures. This introduction to our book is implicitly also the context of Zeina Elcheikh’s contribution, with which she explores ISIS’s motivation for destroying Palmyra. Another reason for the destruction by ISIS could be that the inscription of Palmyra as a World Heritage Site does not reference its Arab and Muslim history. At the same time, the reconstruction of the World Heritage Site means reconciliation for the local people. In her article, Zeina Elcheikh presents facets of the history of Palmyra also in the context of the Convention, interpreting potential destruction interests of ISIS and formulating visions for the future.

Azeez Olaniyan and Akeem O. Bello deal with the functionalization of religions for killing people and destroying their heritage. In their interpretation, religions motivated rulers to erect monuments that could present faith and power as one. Many such monuments are inscribed today as World Heritage Sites. Starting with a brief introduction of diverse religions, they narrow their discussion to Islam. Narratively rather than theoretically, they focus on how diverse groups interpret religious texts differently to advance their own political and power interests. Their statements are supported using excerpts from the Quran and several heritage preservation measures. According to their study, religion is not only misused as a means to an end but also as a legitimization for murder and crime.

The paper of Lorika Hisari, Kristen Barrett-Casey and Kalliopi Fouseki addresses a topic that has hardly been reflected upon so far, namely the extent to which heritage in former war zones can be mobilized for sustainable peace. They analyse the framework necessary for this and the role of the categories of “reconciliation” and “sustainable development”. Relevant to this book is a critical examination of the possibilities and limitations of UNESCO. They show that the peacebuilding activities of the local population are significantly hampered due to technocratic regulations. The authors focus on Kosovo and Iraq as representative examples of post-war regions and substantiate their critical views on UNESCO’s political practice. At the same time, they formulate visions of how UNESCO could or should open up to future perspectives and how reconciliation can lead to peacebuilding.

The issues of war and terrorism and the economically motivated destruction of heritage are only partially addressed in the World Heritage Convention. If at all, attention can be drawn to these problems by putting destroyed World Heritage on the List in Danger, allowing the initiation of international assistance. In this context, Sabine von Schorlemer demonstrates that national and international laws, instruments and jurisdictions must be established with which such forms of destruction can be legally punished and, if not prevented, at least practically minimized. With her “integrated approach”, she explains the mercilessness of the destroyers and the relative powerlessness of the international community. She opens up new perspectives by reflecting on the Nicosia Convention of the Council of Europe.

Climate Change

Claire Cave’s chapter introduces the impacts of climate change on World Heritage sites, considering both direct and indirect impacts and how these are being addressed. It also presents conflicts between climate change mitigation and heritage conservation measures. Climate change has been identified as the most significant potential threat to natural World Heritage and substantially affects cultural heritage. Yet, the author suggests that we need to view heritage not simply as a passive victim of climate change but as a tool that can be used proactively to mitigate its threats. Thus, emphasis should be placed on local management interventions appropriate for the diversity of World Heritage and the role World Heritage can play in generating sustainable and climate-resilient changes in human behaviour.

William P. Megarry engages with conflicts arising from “static” provisions of the World Heritage Convention and the inevitable transformations resulting from climate change. His contribution argues that the Convention’s central concepts may need to adapt to the climate crisis and its impacts on World Heritage properties and provides suggestions for how this could be achieved. In this context, the use of a proactive values-based vulnerability assessment tool is promising, as illustrated by a case study from Tanzania. However, it is necessary to consider the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties more consistently by providing more precise and explicit guidance within the existing proactive mechanisms of the Operational Guidelines and through an inclusive approach to values, which reflects the spirit of the Convention.

Cathy Daly focuses on potential conflicts related to the World Heritage system and the processes of Climate Action. These refer to different policy instruments, the World Heritage Convention and the 2015 Paris Agreement, respectively, whose reconciliation appears necessary. To explore the intersections, Cathy Daly focuses on issues arising from the Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2007, providing an exploration of how policy approaches, including the policy reframe of 2021, changed over time. Four keywords guide the exploration, i.e., mitigation, change, loss and responsibility, and it reveals the areas where improvements are needed to integrate Climate Action with the World Heritage Convention.

Esteban Avigliano and Nahuel Schenone argue that holistic management is necessary to counteract the worldwide decline in biodiversity and climate change. To this end, they developed a research approach that is holistically oriented and empirically implemented within a case study. They focused on non-protected areas to better understand the diversity of land use in contrast to protected areas such as World Heritage sites. They argue that there is a proven need to expand bioscience research with respect to such areas. Using a multi-institutional analysis, they identified the participants required for the case study and captured the diversity of behaviours and needs. The results of this paper reveal the relevance of such a holistic research approach and the findings obtained through its use.

Michael Rohde addresses the challenges associated with climate change for those managing historic gardens and examines the relevant philosophical works, history and policy. The link between heritage, climate change and historic gardens has not been significantly addressed in international literature so far. Thus, this chapter represents an innovative subject, exploring new areas and providing a basis for further research on the subject. Its core argument is that while gardens are affected by climate change, they can also represent scientific laboratories to help understand conservation. The chapter further promotes a view of gardens as cultural monuments, and it explores how they could help change people’s perception of nature, prompting a more responsible and humane way of life.

Sushma Bhatta, Robin Boustead and Kurt Luger discuss the impacts of climate change on natural heritage through the case of Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal. As tourism is one of the few sources of income in the country, it is the focus of both positive and negative attention. While it reduces poverty in the country, it also exacerbates the effects of climate change. The research focuses on discussing with local target groups how to positively engage in tourism while avoiding further exacerbating climate change impacts. They address a complex set of questions to very different target groups in the region (community leaders, business owners, individuals etc.), demonstrating that World Heritage sustainability is multidimensional and must be considered in tourism management.

Technological Change

Alexander Siegmund and Anca Claudia Prodan reflect upon the consequences of technological change on World Heritage through examples of the negative impacts, e.g., from mining or urban sprawl, and positive developments caused by digital technology. The examples indicate that the pace and scale of technological change are critical impacting factors, but there is currently no methodology for assessing the consequences for World Heritage. Insights can be drawn from the experience of the Historic Urban Landscape approach, the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme and the application of heritage and environmental impact assessment methods. While these are useful in several regards, the authors conclude by emphasizing the need for a methodology tailored to the impacts of technological change on World Heritage properties against the background of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yonca Erkan’s contribution focuses on water technologies and their use, impacts and implications for people and local communities. While water presents many uses, this contribution engages with the conflicts and problems that result from overusing water as a source of energy at the expense of its use for daily activities. At the same time, the paper argues that infrastructural remnants represent an invaluable part of cultural heritage and opportunities for the traditional knowledge they embody to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Such views are supported with examples of changes in water use and related technologies, some ancient, in Anatolia and the implications for World Heritage Sites in the region. The lessons learnt in this case, which the author summarizes in conclusion, offer a basis for a more sustainable way of treating water.

Friederike Hansell describes the challenges concerning mining activities within World Heritage cultural landscapes, arguing that there is a need for adapted conservation measures and appropriate management. The chapter narrates the experience of the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region, a transboundary historic mining landscape shared by Saxony and the Czech Republic. The description illustrates the influence of mining on the landscape, people and their traditions and its contribution to the OUV. This contribution further discusses how these could be affected by the resumption of mining activities and introduces appropriate solutions and approaches. The literature that the author provides with the description includes a range of sources relevant to understanding the discussions and approaches to mining and World Heritage, in particular within the most relevant international organizations.

Against the backdrop of changing challenges to World Heritage and the associated inscription policies, Michael Kloos presents technical needs for protection and conservation in response to changing management requirements. He refers explicitly to cultural landscapes, which suffer more complex changes than other types of World Heritage properties, focusing on the case of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley with its ambivalent challenges of development and heritage protection. He identifies a set of necessary tools and explains how they can be successfully implemented through practical management with technological support. He also notes that while the iconic significance of World Heritage properties was once safeguarded for the future, it is now dependent on “efficient systematic tools” that enable the integration of OUV conservation and sustainable development.

The contribution by Mario Hernández, Philippe De Maeyer, Luc Zwartjes and Antonio Benavides Castillo sums up the aim of this conflict area with the statement that “modern technologies have significantly changed the way our societies behave and operate”. Positive and negative developments must be considered in implementing the World Heritage Convention. The central message of this paper is related to the use of technological developments for the support of experts in the heritage context. The authors present this through a case study, primarily conducted at the Maya archaeological site of “Edzná” in Mexico. As an example, they describe how digital scientific and technological methodologies, which they call “Geoheritage”, can support the management of sites and the local communities from the surroundings.

While acknowledging that tourism can have negative impacts, George N. Zaimes, Valasia Iakovoglou, Fergus T. Maclaren and Pankaj Manchanda present the potential of digital technology for sustainable tourism at World Heritage Sites. The authors’ opinion is based on their own experience with new-age technologies for tourism in Greece and India. The technologies they present stand out through their sensitive approach to nature and people, helping develop, diversify and extend eco-tourism to less frequently visited or unknown sites; engaging the local population and promoting local traditions and crafts; and integrating heritage conservation and education. The authors have professional relationships with UNESCO and ICOMOS, and their activities have been recognized as best practices by these organizations.

Commodification of Heritage

The article of Thomas M. Schmitt focuses on the commodification of World Heritage, which occurs through different “markets” that include tourism and media and the inscription processes by the World Heritage Committee. He follows Marxian categories and insights from philosophical anthropology to highlight commodification areas, focusing on aspects of “exploitation”, “alienation” and “fetishism”. This is accompanied by examples of how these commodification processes are reflected in, for example, the use of the World Heritage label or in the relationships between residents, visitors and the World Heritage site. Thomas Schmitt uses these notions as conceptual lenses capable of revealing problem areas, and his discussion shows that possible solution strategies have to apply different levers, usually with a combination of structural changes, changed awareness and individual practices.

“World Heritage must be preserved, maintained and... made public for the transmission of cultural knowledge” are the words of Lia Bassa regarding the tourism concept of the Hungarian World Heritage Site “Millenary Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma”. In her short case study, she explains how World Heritage can be financed with tourism, as the site’s management succeeded by implementing the market approach of commodification while integrating sustainable development. A selection of tourists was targeted and comprehensively informed about the World Heritage site and involved in conservation processes, which was complemented by local community participation. This case represents an example of consciousness-raising and a counter-model to the market regime of the consumer society.

Claudia Lozano addresses commodification conflicts and their causes in using natural sites such as national parks. She analyses them theoretically and describes them practically before demonstrating how they might be prevented. She focuses on Los Alerces National Park in Argentina and its buffer zones, inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2017. Management is aligned according to the site’s framework, and this is where her conflict analysis comes in. It extends the common understanding of commodification as commercialization through uses of natural landscapes that no longer correspond to traditional and biological forms. This concerns the use of such areas through grain export, agro-industrial production or mineral mining. At the same time, the uses of natural landscapes contribute to social development processes. Such ambivalences are elaborated in this contribution.

Fabienne Wallenwein discusses commodification of heritage through tourism in the Chinese rice terraces “Honghe Hani Rice Terraces”, inscribed as World Heritage Cultural Landscape in 2013. She discusses the ambivalent impacts of tourism on the cultural landscape and the region, on people and nature, and their evaluation by local communities and the Chinese government. The ecosystem and its use by local people with their local and indigenous knowledge were threatened long before tourism was stylized as an economic mechanism. Globalization, climate change, industrialization and urbanization were the triggers. Although tourism promotes these developments, it also contributes to economic and social development. By applying the concept of “politics of scale” in the Rice Terraces, such developments should be regulated in the context of the criteria for World Heritage protection.

The Day After Tomorrow

The theme of responsibility presented by Marie-Theres Albert not only runs through the World Heritage Convention but is also a constituent element of all conventions and declarations adopted by UNESCO. In this respect, the analysis of the various justifications for the assumption of responsibility by societies and individuals and their attributions based on norms, values and laws is an essential basis for the peaceful coexistence of people. This also applies to the assumption of responsibility for the protection of World Heritage. In her contribution, Marie-Theres Albert discusses three relevant theoretical approaches to the concept of responsibility in the context of World Heritage: Hans Jonas’s concept of people’s overall social responsibility for their heritage, Max Weber’s notion of political responsibility, and Hannah Arendt’s notion of personal responsibility.

Birgitta Ringbeck focuses on post-war reconstruction interpreted as a way to reconciliation in the context of World Heritage. Beyond protecting unique properties, World Heritage has the power to create a sense of a global community, in line with UNESCO’s aim to achieve the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind. While this remains a challenge, post-war recovery provides opportunities, as shown by how approaches to reconstructions have changed over time. Birgitta Ringbeck shows this with examples of policy tools and cases of destruction and reconstruction from countries such as Mali, Syria, Afghanistan and Bosnia Herzegovina. These cases show that the reconstruction of cultural properties after conflicts is not simply the restoration of physical materials, but a process by which social cohesion can be restored and cultural identity strengthened.

The World Heritage Convention is presented by Constanze Fuhrmann against the deteriorating living conditions of people worldwide, which she contrasts with the significance of the Convention for its identity-forming function and its sustainable development mandate. She points to real problems of implementation related to the SDGs themselves and their potential contradictory goals. A particular focus of this contribution is the management of World Heritage, which has to solve the contradiction of preserving sites based on the provisions of the Convention and in the context of the climate crisis, leading to what she calls dilemma situations. In addition, World Heritage is increasingly at the mercy of economic interests, which often conflict with sustainable development. In this respect, various conflict resolution models are required, which she presents and discusses in this paper.

Claudia Grünberg and Klaus-Christian Zehbe take a critical look at Article 27 of the World Heritage Convention, which deals with education. Based on a comprehensive study concerning its realisation, they identify significant pitfalls and possibilities of World Heritage Education (WHE). By analysing theoretical paradoxes of World Heritage sites, they identify a gap between the claims of WHE and its current implementation. To overcome these paradoxes, they suggest an approach grounded in local cultures but oriented by a global perspective of minimal morality, which includes sustainability. For the future, they recommend that WHE needs to be underpinned by local educational theories and needs to be practically expanded to tie in with current UNESCO educational concepts, such as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

The positions of young professionals provide reflections on the state of the art of World Heritage and visions for the future of the Convention. Such views are presented in this chapter compiled by Roland Bernecker, which is the result of a roundtable discussion with young professionals representing different organizations. As a result, this chapter is not designed according to the traditional framework of the other chapters. Instead, diverse positions are presented and discussed based on introductory questions. The young professionals assessed the implementation of the Convention and underlined the need for critical views on Eurocentrism, unbalanced listing and lack of funding, especially in the countries of the global south. They further emphasized a need for comprehensive educational measures for diverse target groups – a demand mentioned several times in the context of this publication.