Europa Nostra / European Heritage Congress 11.–15.5.2017, Turku
Forum Sharing Heritage – Citizens Participating in Decision Making 13.5.2017
In a changing world, cultural heritage is open to various interpretations. There are, moreover, multiple new means of communication in which individuals can add meaning and context to these interpretations.
Local authorities compete for investment, human resources and visitors. They face pressures to provide high living standards and full employment. Branding, development and tourism strategies do not always reflect a ‘sense of place’ and the needs of the relevant communities, resulting in poor outcomes.
It is important that citizens, whilst involved in decision-making processes, should use the opportunity to uphold cultural values and traditions and to promote positive change. In this context, cultural diversity, both between and within communities, must be respected.
It rests with us all to ensure that everyone fully understands what cultural heritage and its visible manifestations represent as a mainstay of society.
The aim is for society to allow and encourage individuals to become more active in every aspect of cultural heritage. In order to achieve this, fresh means of ensuring that the widest possible participation and interaction, even through legislation, should be sought – avoiding conflict and polarization. A thorough understanding of local culture and environmental issues will render any participation more effective.
National, regional and local, as well as pan-European involvement is the way forward, and this chimes with the Principles of Participatory Governance of Heritage recently approved by the Council of the European Union.
We have the power. Let this be our call to action!