Kloster Zscheiplitz Laboratory of Heritage & Development (ZSD) Tentative proposal, July 2016
The long-term management of both cultural and natural capital can be cast in terms of the principles of sustainable development.
When applied to natural capital, sustainable development implies management of natural resources in a way that provides for the needs of the present generation without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs; that is, the principle of intergenerational equity (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). Another key element of sustainability in natural capital management is the precautionary principle that argues for a risk-averse stance in decision making when irreversible consequences such as species loss are possible.
Both of these principles are relevant to cultural heritage sustainability. Because the stock of cultural capital, both tangible and intangible, embodies the culture we have inherited from our forebears and which we hand on to future generations, it is inevitable that questions of intergenerational equity are raised. Heritage decision making is constantly faced with the long-term implications of strategies for conservation, upgrading, and adaptive reuse of buildings and sites. Similarly, the precautionary principle can be invoked when demolition of a historic building is threatened; once gone, such unique cultural heritage cannot be replaced (World Commission on Culture and Development 1995; UNESCO 1998; Throsby 2003).
Indeed, one can go further in drawing the parallel between the sustainability of natural and cultural capital by suggesting that the concept of ecologically or environmentally sustainable development (often referred to as ESD) has a counterpart in culturally sustainable development (CSD), a proposition that foreshadows the possibility of identifying culturally sustainable growth paths for the economy.
When applied to heritage, cultural sustainability implies assessing conservation investment projects against a set of criteria that might include:
• Efficient generation of material and non-material well-being for stakeholders;
• Serving principles of intergenerational equity by taking due care of the heritage in the interests of future generations;
• Ensuring equitable participation in the benefits of the heritage among
members of the present generation:
• Paying explicit attention to the long-term maintenance of the cultural values inherent in the heritage and in the services it provides.
Heritage policies are being increasingly integrated with urban and rural regeneration strategies, tourism activities, cultural industry, community education and participation in programs, and even in regional planning (as in the case of London's "Historic Environment" initiative). In this case, enhancing the sustainability of the natural and built environment, including important urban heritage sites, is sought through the formulation of a framework for action containing a coherent tourism and cultural strategy.
ZSD is to provide the platform for the interdisciplinary discussion on the sustainable developement scenarios of the unique Saale-Unsturt region, which encompasses three protected areas of international cultural, environmental and economic significance: UNESCO World Heritage Saale-Unstrut region, National park Saale-Unstruttal/ Triasland and the wine economic are of Saale-Unsturt. The discussion is to focus on the formulation of coherent heritage policy and its primary objectives, such as promoting efficiency in the production of both economic, environmental and socio-cultural benefits through heritage conservation, and protecting the public interest in regard to the various aspects of the public-good benefits of heritage.
Tangible cultural heritage policies, regulation, and incentive instruments are meant to safeguard and protect the integrity of cultural heritage assets; in turn, these can affect the performance of property, service & tourism markets and influence local development prospects and job creation opportunities. In investment operations the economic outcomes are contingent on the adoption and proper use of a set of policy instruments (fiscal incentives, access to special credit lines, property tax deferment etc) that may produce optimal economic returns and, at the same time, protect and preserve the non-market legacy value of cultural heritage assets.
Actions should develop and deploy via large-scale demonstration projects novel heritage-led systemic approaches and solutions for sustainable growth. In order to pave the way for their rapid replication and up-scaling, a 'Role models' and 'Replicators' approach should be implemented.
The 'Role models' are urban or rural landscapes which have demonstrably and successfully pursued a heritage-led regeneration.
The 'Replicators' are urban or rural landscapes that will be assisted/mentored by 'Role models' and committed to their heritage-led regeneration within the duration of the project, replicating the heritage-led regeneration 'blueprints' of the 'Role models', properly contextualised to fit their particular contexts. The 'Replicators' will therefore proactively seek advice, assistance and mentoring from the 'Role models', have privileged contact with them and access to their know-how, and will participate in the definition of user requirements and the methodology for transferability of solutions, data collection etc.
Projects should aim to:
- map, analyse and systematically document successful heritage-led regeneration models in 'Role models', linking where appropriate cultural and natural heritage; make this evidence base readily accessible to a community of competent and interested authorities, planners, practitioners, enterprises and stakeholders (including civil society) through innovative communication and training strategies. Particular emphasis should be made on successful business and management models, financing mechanisms, leveraging of investments, governance structures, urban and territorial plans and legal frameworks.
- assist 'Replicators' through provision of expertise, advice and capacity building in developing and implementing during the life of the project their heritage-led regeneration plans, including appropriate business and management models, financing mechanisms, governance structures, planning tools and legal frameworks;
- set up a robust monitoring scheme to monitor the performance of the deployed regeneration scheme, so as to assess the impact for the targeted rural and urban areas in an as quantifiable way as possible against a well-defined baseline at the time of the proposal. Performance monitoring should last for a period of at least 2 years within the life of the project. Longer term monitoring commitment beyond the end of the project, while continuing the systematic documentation of the data, will give an added value to the proposal;
- develop methodologies enabling the replication and up-scaling of heritage-led urban regeneration projects in different contexts, including replication of innovative investment strategies, governance and business models;
- identify potential regulatory, economic and technical barriers and propose concrete ways to optimise policy and regulatory and administrative frameworks;
- establish long-term sustainable data platforms securing open, consistent data and performance measurements and interoperability of data infrastructures to ensure effective communication, public consultation, exchange of practices and sharing of experiences and a continuous building up of the 'knowledge portfolio' through long-term (i.e. beyond the life of the project) exploitability of the results.
Projects are expected to contribute to:
- providing new heritage-led urban and rural regeneration paradigms, up-scalable and replicable, replacing the object-oriented approach with a spatial approach in heritage planning and offering new economic and investment opportunities, new products and services, reduced regulative and administrative barriers, innovative governance adopting trans-disciplinary and participatory approaches and promoting citizens' engagement and new local skills and jobs;
- strengthening Germany's capacity as a world-leader in promoting, financing, developing, managing and replicating innovative use of heritage for urban and rural regeneration in Europe and beyond;
- securing heritage conservation and sustainability through fostering collective management, responsibility and ownership of cultural heritage, and establishing a "community of practice" to promote heritage potential as a production (rather than a cost) factor to the society through unlocking its potential as a driver for regeneration and a catalyser for economic growth and jobs;
- providing as quantifiable evidence as possible of the cultural, social, environmental and economic benefits (e.g. set-up of companies, start-ups in new productive activities in different fields new cultural products and services, tourism, construction industry, developing talent, attracting new investment in the regeneration sector etc.) of heritage reuse at different levels, including in deprived or less developed areas;
- mobilising investment and opening up of new market opportunities for businesses through networking at national level competent authorities and stakeholders interested in using heritage to regenerate their cities or rural areas;
- positioning Germany as a leading force in the use of heritage as a means for social, cultural and economic development;
- assisting regions in developing their Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies by including sound heritage-led urban and rural regeneration projects.
© Alexander Hahn, November 2016