The Organization of World Heritage Cities
The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) was founded on September 8, 1993 in Fez, Morocco. The Organization is composed of more than 300 cities in which are located sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In general, we speak of a population of more than 164 million inhabitants, united by the desire to preserve and promote their respective World Heritage. Within the Organization, these cities are essentially represented by their Mayors with the active participation of their heritage management specialists.
Since its foundation, and under the recommendation of its founder Mr. Jean-Paul L’Allier, the OWHC's headquarters are located in Québec City, which hosted the First International Symposium of World Heritage Cities in July 1991. Mr. L'Allier, at the time Mayor of Quebec City and fervent defender of World Heritage, was the great architect of this group of international cities.
The objectives of the OWHC
Regarding World Heritage, the OWHC member cities share the following goals:
- to favor the implementation of the World Heritage Convention
- to encourage co-operation and the exchange of information and expertise on matters of conservation and management of urban heritage
- to develop a sense of solidarity among its member cities
To this end, the OWHC organizes many meetings: World Congresses, conferences, seminars and workshops dealing with the challenges to be met in the realm of management and strategies pertaining to the preservation and development of historic cities. These are important moments of discussion and sharing as well as a great opportunity for heritage cities to reaffirm their commitment to protect and promote World Heritage. Moreover, the OWHC offers to its city members many programs and projects which aim to promote and support the maintenance, recognition and development of their world heritage:
- Youth on the Trail of World Heritage
- The Jean-Paul-L’Allier Prize for Heritage
- International Video Production Competition
- Solidarity day of World Heritage Cities – September 8
- Distance-Training Program
- Little Stories of World Heritage Cities
General Assembly of the OWHC
The Mayors of World Heritage cities that have paid their annual membership fees make up the General Assembly, the Organization’s paramount authority. The General Assembly has meets every two years. Since 1993, the assemblies have been held in more than a dozen countries around the world, demonstrating once again the breadth and diversity of the OWHC.
Board of Directors of the OWHC
The Board of Directors, is made up of eight Mayors elected by the General Assembly. It meets at least once a year. The current President of the Board of Directors is Mr. Régis Labeaume, Mayor of Québec City and successor to Mr. Jean-Paul L'Allier, the first President and Founder of the OWHC.
General Secretariat of the OWHC
The General Secretariat is directed by the Secretary General, appointed by the General Assembly, who oversees the execution of mandates adopted by the members, the day-to-day administration of the Organization, personnel management and hiring.
Regional Secretariats of the OWHC
Eight Regional Secretariats support the work of the General Secretariat:
- Regensburg (Germany) for Northwest Europe and North America
- Budapest (Hungary) for Central and Eastern Europe
- Córdoba (Spain) for Southern Europe and the Mediterranean
- Rimac (Peru) for South America
- Kazan (Russian Federation) for Euro-Asia
- Tunis (Tunisia) for Africa and Middle East
- Gyeongju (South Korea) for Asia and the Pacific
- Morelia (Mexico) for Central America, Caribbean and Mexico
Since 1991, world congresses have been held in all parts of the globe, and the 15th will be held in 2019 in Krakow.