On 10 May 2012, the City of Brussels is organising an international conference entitled "Managing Europe's World Heritage historic city centres: a theoretical and practical approach" in the prestigious surroundings of Brussels Town Hall.
UNESCO's adoption of the World Heritage Convention in 1972 marked the birth of the World Heritage List. This registration of monuments, works of architecture or even entire historic city centres has brought increased awareness of the major value of the ancient urban fabric as a part of humankind's heritage. This international recognition has most certainly inspired a change in the way these historic centres are managed by the responsible bodies as well as a change in the thinking of private owners.
Nevertheless, this was just the first step towards an integrated management – as also urged by UNESCO – of all the factors involved in ensuring the effective conservation of historic urban centres.
The challenge facing municipal authorities now is to create and develop the appropriate management tools for the task.
Following the inclusion of its Grand-Place on the World Heritage List in 1998, the City of Brussels initiated a reflection exercise that today enables it to present the first version of its management plan. Seeking to draw maximum benefit from the dynamic that was thus generated, it has invited five European World Heritage cities to share in its questionings, reflections and intentions in managing, conserving and highlighting its heritage.
The conference organisers therefore suggest pooling the experiences of Warsaw, Naples, Albi, Porto and Regensburg. We will also be looking at the questions raised by our work to date and tracing the main lines of implementation in the medium and long term.
This pooling of know-how can only help ensure a rapid and effective application of the intentions which have been formulated and refined in recent years.
We will be pleased to welcome to these presentations and debates the representatives of local authorities, managers of World Heritage cities, and any bodies or persons interested in the conservation of architectural and urban heritage.