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Dialogue 5

Urban Planning and Heritage Preservation - Regeneration


Economic transformation without robust spatial planning and inclusion policies has resulted in cities extending their footprints causing the deterioration of city centers, the expansion of low-density, poorly planned suburbia, and the emergence of underutilized former industrial areas. These challenges are even more pronounced given the resource limitations faced by cities

As the growing pace of transformation makes urban heritage particularly vulnerable, it has been adversely affected by these developments.

In situations of conflict and natural disaster, the loss of heritage can be severe, making its protection and preservation particularly challenging.

The preservation and valorization of historic and cultural heritage is a key opportunity for urban regeneration as both physical and immaterial aspects of heritage can be leveraged as development and economic opportunities.

Urban regeneration restores underutilized assets and redistributes opportunities, increasing urban prosperity and improving quality of life for all. This can strengthen the sense of place and identity and support urban inclusion. 

In crisis or disaster situations urban heritage is a potentially powerful anchor for re-establishing communities and driving the reconstruction process.

Urban regeneration initiatives are complex, lengthy and run the risk of gentrifying private space or privatizing public space. Despite being area based, they are impacted by dynamics and trends at the city level and beyond and attract interest and resources from a broad range of investors and actors with different agendas which may be difficult to manage.

Heritage quality is often privatized rather than shared. Economic opportunities created by heritage and tourism may also impact negatively on local life, while preservation efforts may have contradictory results.

This session will:

Analyze the role of urban regeneration in preserving and restoring urban heritage and creating new economic and social development opportunities.

Explore how urban heritage can strengthen the sense of identity and contribute to community cohesion and inclusion beyond the neighborhood through broad participatory processes, thereby enriching both overall urban diversity and the city fabric.

The dialectic between heritage preservation and sustainable development is at the core of urban heritage regeneration and reconstruction. The common ground between often divergent approaches must be identified and tools developed to strengthen synergies between the two.

This will ensure that the diversity of the world’s urban physical and immaterial heritage contributes fully to the development of sustainable, vibrant and more equitable cities for all.


This session is a platform for the exchange of views on urban regeneration, heritage interventions, and regeneration planning methodologies.

It will seek solutions that strengthen relationships between partners from different backgrounds and areas of expertise in urban heritage preservation and urban regeneration.

Guiding Questions
  1. What are the key challenges posed by urban heritage preservation in regeneration and reconstruction processes, and which of the following approaches should be used to overcome them?
  • Social inclusion and the stability of existing communities.
  • Sustained preservation in the context of economic dynamism
  • Resources mobilization
  1. Which institutional settings are appropriate for effective preservation and regeneration?
  • Experience of cities (Seoul?)
  • Experience of Regeneration and preservation agencies (Johannesburg)
  • Experience of National Preservation and regeneration agencies
  • Experiences of reconstruction agencies and projects (Iraq)

Is the context of reconstruction dramatically different?

  • Institutional set up, actors to be involved, legislation and enforcement and the role of international actors (UN, others)


Planning processes and urban regeneration and preservation:

  1. There are some well-established planning practices for urban preservation and regeneration. How are these processes and instruments adjusting to different contexts?
  • Participation in urban regeneration; regulatory and incentives-based approaches; strategic overview and coordination; catalytic interventions such as on public space or iconic buildings.
  1. How are these relevant in different contexts including in crisis where reconstruction is the key focus?
  2. SDG 11.4 highlights the need to allocate resources to heritage preservation. Is urban regeneration an adequate process to attract resources?
  3. Are sources of funding including local revenue and small-scale investments adequate?
  4. What is the missing link in the mobilization of resources and investments?

Session Speakers