29 July 2021

“From Fuzhou to Kazan -The Echo of “World Heritage Leadership” – 44COM Side Event

Kazan, Russia

The 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Fuzhou city, East China’s Fujian Province was held from July 16 to 31. World Heritage applications were considered for the first time by a UNESCO committee online. The goal of the session was international cooperation for the conservation and preservation of the world cultural and natural heritage.

A Side Event of the Extended 44th World Heritage Committee Session “From Fuzhou to Kazan -The Echo of “World Heritage Leadership” was held as a part of the session. The side event brought together about 100 experts in the field of heritage conservation, including representatives of major international organizations such as ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), OWHC (Organization of World Heritage Cities) and others.

The “World Heritage Leadership Program” of recent years has had a positive impact and proven effectiveness in strengthening specific World Heritage sites, becoming a driving force for sustainable development and heritage conservation in general.

Participants were welcomed by Mr. Tian Xuejun, Chairperson of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, Vice-Minister of education, and director of China’s National Commission for UNESCO, Ms. Jyoti Hosaprahar, Deputy Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Mr. Zheng Jianmin, Vice Governor of Fujian Province.

The main speakers of the event were representatives of the cities of Fuzhou and Kazan – the city that will host the next 45th session of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in 2022.

Head of International Relations Department of the Kazan City Council, R. Galiakhmetov, shared experiences and strategies for the preservation of cultural heritage in the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan – the city of Kazan. He spoke about the unique centuries of peaceful coexistence of different nations, the religions and cultures in the city of Kazan, described in detail the history of the creation of key objects that contribute to global peace, constant dialogue of religions and international understanding, such as the Kul Sharif Mosque and the Annunciation Cathedral, located in the territory of the Kazan Kremlin. The main focus in the report was the historical and architectural complex of the Kazan Kremlin, which was developed on the basis of many years of research on the level of modern knowledge by leading Russian specialists in the field of history, archaeology and ecology, geology, geophysics, architecture and urban planning.

One of the most important tasks was to coordinate the interests of protecting cultural heritage with the need for the development and reconstruction of territories. The program «Preservation and Development of the Historical Center of Kazan» was presented to the audience, illustrating how it was possible through this program to preserve historical buildings and restore life in the center of the city. R. Galiakhmetov said that work to restore the historical image of Kazan is constantly being carried out. Thanks to one of such programs, for example, the Old Tatar Quarter (“Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda”), the only surviving monument of city architecture and culture of the XVIII – early XX centuries Kazan Tatars, has been recreated.

The discussion after the key speeches was attended by Ms. Li Chun, Deputy Mayor of the People’s Government of Fuzhou, Ms. Eugene Jo, ICCROM/IUCN “World Heritage Leadership” program coordinator, Mr. Fu Qisheng, Director of Fujian Cultural Heritage Administration, as well as the Head of International Relations Department, Kazan City Council, R. Galiakhmetov. The panelists discussed measures to support communities and key heritage sectors that have become vulnerable during the long period of the pandemic, as a result of natural disasters and armed conflicts. The discussion took into account factors such as demographic growth, rapid urbanization, overexploitation of natural and cultural resources, as well as irrationally planned urban development, leading to long-term problems. The Chinese side shared the experience of holding the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and also wished Kazan a successful implementation of all events next year.