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Metropolitan heritage (Heritopolis): mobilising cultural and natural heritage at the metropolitan scale

David Simon


date June 28, 2022 | 17:30 - 19:00
Multifunction Hall Room 9
Royal Holloway, University of London
United Kingdom
Integrated Governance in Spatial Planning for a More Just, Green, and Healthy Urban Future
NE 89


The 21st century metropolis has become the space for increasingly fluid and diverse cultural expressions which challenge more static concepts of local/global/hybrid, urban/rural, culture/nature and traditional/contemporary. A more sustainable approach will balance the diverse interests, cultures and supporting new dynamic identities. Many cities are adopting cultural policies, realizing the central role that diverse cultural heritage – monuments, historic landscapes, vernacular architecture, along with heritage objects and intangible heritage – can play in contributing to vibrant urban identities, quality of life and job creation in this globalized era. Ownership and control over cultural and natural heritage assets commonly lie with multiple national, regional and local official and private bodies, presenting complex challenges for efforts at coherent policy formulation and management. An integrated approach is advocated in SDG 11.4 and the NUA. Promoting creativity in sustainable development, the safeguarding of heritage and the expression of diverse forms of cultural expression are essential for communities and individuals to generate a sense of belonging and to build social capital. The question of future metropolitan heritage is crucial. What is valuable in it? How can a heritage approach increase the value of metropolitan production? The metropolis extends the question of heritage beyond the scale of the monuments, urban centres and historic landscapes. This requires specific concepts and tools to be developed. The NUA affirms that urban heritage can also generate growth and jobs, especially through tourism, and the creative and cultural industries. For urban leaders and policymakers, it is imperative to harness the opportunities that cultural heritage can offer. Accordingly, this event will highlight the importance of the metropolitan scale through a blend of presenters from different partner organisations, world regions and career stages. They will provide insights from their experience and results from the recent Heritopolis survey of participating metropolises undertaken mainly by early-stage researchers. Highlights of the presentations will include: 1. The metropolis as heritage and new questions attached to the change of scale. 2. The strategic importance of such an integrated approach as outlined above, including the explicit inclusion of cultural and natural heritage as priorities within the SDGs and NUA. 3. Results from the survey of metropolitan areas in the worldwide Heritopolis network, using examples to highlight the diversity of (a) organisations active in this arena, (b) the extent to which the SDGs and NUA are being actively engaged with and monitoring of progress is being measured, and (c) of how coherent policies can and do make a positive difference. 4. Preliminary lessons and suggestions of good practice. 5. How researchers and local governments can join the Heritopolis initiative and MetroHUB.


1. To discuss about the metropolis as a 21st century heritage 2. To draw attention to the importance of a coherent metropolitan-scale approach to mobilisation and conservation of tangible and intangible cultural and natural heritage as an integral element of urban sustainability strategies. 3. To highlight key examples from diverse contexts around the world of innovative and inclusive metropolitan heritage strategies and actions. 4. To encourage representatives of other large and metropolitan urban authorities to engage actively with their heritage in forward-looking ways to promote urban sustainability. 5. To explain the partnership between UN-Habitat’s MetroHUB, ICOMOS, Metropolis and MTPA who support the Metropolitan heritage initiative. 6. To expand the metropolitan heritage initiative and provide a forum both for the exchange of ideas and examples of good practice and for the promotion of collaborative research, policy dialogues and action.

Session speakers

Prof Dr David Simon
Professor of Geography
Royal Holloway, University of London
Dr Joanna Sanetra-Szeliga
UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies
Cracow University of Economics
Dr Claus-Peter Echter
Mr. Jordi Vaquer
Secretary General
Mr. Eric Huybrechts
Manager of International Affairs, Directorate General
l'Institut de Paris Region, and MTPA