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The inscription of cultural property on the World Heritage List is not an end in itself. Property located in an urban setting should be able to retain its capacity for evolving and adapting to remain consistent with its environment, which is in constant mutation. In fact, one of the recurring challenges faced by local public authorities are that of harmonizing the development of the city with the exemplary safeguarding and enhancement of World Heritage. One of the means to find potential responses is to draw on the experiences of other World Heritage Cities.

This solution is closely related to one of the missions of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, which is to promote, both on the regional and international level, cooperation and the exchange of information and knowledge among all the historic cities of the world. This is the reason why the OWHC offers to its members the opportunity to share their experiences owing to a voluntary contribution program, Case Studies, and a platform for dissemination that gathers these examples together to ensure that they are shared by the greatest number of people.




Case Studies is an ongoing voluntary contribution program on the practices of world heritage cities, built around 10 major urban issues:

  • Knowledge and governance
  • Urban morphology, public space, monument and habitat
  • Economic diversity, tourism, infrastructure, mobility




And the major challenges of the cities of the XXIst century:

  • Evolution of the vision of heritage
  • Urbanization of the planet
  • Trade globalization
  • Environmental priorities
  • The rise in power of the local governments
  • The growing aspiration of the inhabitants to act on their environment and their future




The methodology designed for the questionnaire and the synthetic data sheet allows for a fair and easy comparison of the projects made available to the public on the project database of the OWHC. This comparison is done on the basis of three reading prisms:

  • Preservation and enhancement of heritage
  • Taking users into account
  • Urban projects led by local governments

The sheets are returned in the language in which the questionnaire was drawn, that is, in English, French or Spanish.




A database accessible on the web site of the OWHC keeps processes and disseminates to the greatest number of persons the data collected as well as the analyses and the lessons collected, which constitute precious material.


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The Compilation of Case Studies is a project initiated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) further to a proposal of the City of Lyon, led by the latter and carried out thanks to the collaboration of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre (as part of the France-UNESCO Convention), the Council of Europe, the Getty Conservation Institute and, finally, ICOMOS represented by its International Council on Historic Towns and Villages (CIVVIH).

Carried out between 2008 and 2012, the compilation attempted, by involving the mayors and the management teams of a urban site inscribed on the World Heritage List, to provide some possible solutions to the following question: How to safeguard and enhance heritage in an exemplary fashion and, at the same time, allow a city to develop for the profit of the inhabitants, the visitors and future generations?

The first step (2008-2009) made it possible to develop the survey tools and to test the method with 24 cities in 19 countries and to collect 26 case studies. Further to this initial test, the redefined methodology led to a second call for tender (2010-2011) that made it possible to collect 40 cases presented by 34 cities located in 25 different countries. Each of the 40 cases was summarized in a four-page fact sheet to allow for a simplified comparative reading. In order to accompany the volume regrouping the case studies presented in their language of origin (French, English or Spanish), a second volume containing an analytical report explaining the methodology developed over a five-year period was added in the three languages to the compilation published digitally.


In 2013, the Cities & Heritage meeting held in Lyon for the 15th anniversary celebration of the inscription of Lyon on the World Heritage List made it possible to discuss the theme Changing Cities and Heritage Management: New Players? New Practices?, following the methodology of the compilation. Also, the 12th World Congress of the OWHC, which took place in Oaxaca, Mexico, and was held in November 2013, made it possible to make a report and present an outlook of the project.

In 2014, in order to complete the second stage and to transmit sustainably, a printed publication of the compilation was produced thanks to the France-UNESCO Convention, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the OWHC. This version of the compilation underwent minor changes; it only contains one volume grouping together the analysis report in the three languages and the fact sheets, a revised translation of the report in English and in Spanish and a significant enrichment of the Appendices.


You can find this publication in digital version not only on the OWHC’s Web Site, but also on that of the UNESCO's World Heritage Centre with a detailed description of the methodology applied to the fact sheets.