Sustainable Urban World Heritage Sites
In Edinburgh, we talk a lot about ‘mainstreaming heritage’ – breaking the barriers between heritage and sustainability to ensure we can impact both shared challenges. The AtlaS.WH project – full name ‘Heritage in the Atlantic Area: Sustainability of the Urban World Heritage Sites’ – addressed these challenges front and centre.
Funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme through the European Regional Development Fund, the project worked on developing sustainable management plans for each World Heritage Site by addressing common problems faced by each partner city. This included issues such as gentrification, over-tourism, and the climate emergency.
Edinburgh World Heritage participated in the AtlaS.WH project for over three years and made important and lasting relationships with each of project partners:
- Municipality of Porto, Portugal (project lead)
- Municipality of Florence, Italy
- Bordeaux Metropole, France
- Edinburgh World Heritage, United Kingdom
- Consortium for the City of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The AtlaS.WH project benefitted Edinburgh greatly by sharing the latest in sustainable heritage management research, providing frameworks and forums for discussion on how to shape our next management plan for our World Heritage Site. It allowed Edinburgh World Heritage to engage widely with local schools through craft activities, creatively asking some really difficult questions such as, what is our heritage and how can we look after it for people in the future? The project also engaged with professionals, in the Council and within the heritage sector and beyond, by providing a brand new online CPD course titled ‘Managing heritage in a changing world’.
Importantly, however, the AtlaS.WH project reminded us what we are most proud of about our World Heritage Site. We are a living and breathing city with outstanding universal value, recognised the world over – but we are not a museum exhibit. We are a city with a castle, ancient wynds and Georgian terraces, rubbish collection, cycle lanes and farmers markets, and normally each year our population swells in August when we host the largest international arts festival in the world. Ultimately, the project celebrates our World Heritage Site for how it is actively used by locals and visitors alike – how people come together to maintain their buildings and invest in the historic environment.
Learn more about this in our online exhibition, ‘Placing People at the Heart of Heritage.’