Palmyra, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, the Dome of the Rock, the Statue of Liberty, Petra; each of these sites represents a piece of our civilization’s story, our global heritage. This is our common ground. These sites not only speak to our heritage, they are also our homes, comprising an important piece of personal identity.
But who cares for these sites? Who is responsible for their welfare? Who protects the gift of heritage?
As our world becomes increasingly globalized, the challenges associated with managing cultural heritage are growing. Mass tourism, urban development, and environmental changes are just a few examples of threats to heritage sites. Most developed nations possess the necessary resources to protect cultural heritage sites. In low- and middle income countries, however, such resources are often scarce.
As global tourism rises local communities and heritage sites are increasingly under threat. The lack of trained heritage professionals is especially problematic. Due to this underlying resource gap, communities are unable to share in the socioeconomic benefits of cultural heritage, while the very survival of heritage sites is threatened.
Traditional models for heritage preservation in developing economies rely on international organizations to provide both the resources and trained professionals to mange heritage projects. Such projects focus almost exclusively on the conservation of the physical site rather than addressing a country’s underlying resource gap or integrating the local communities into management processes. This scenario plays out at sites across the globe. Without capacity building, heritage remains at risk and communities are excluded from decision-making and economic gains.
Unlike other heritage preservation organizations, IHP is unique in that it seeks to preserve heritage by growing a country’s capacity and resources to manage its own heritage. As a catalyst for change, IHP’s impact will be measured by its empowerment of local communities, the strength of its alumni, and its contribution to local and global economic development. IHP will speak for sustainable tourism and ethical preservation of our heritage sites now, and for generations to come. Read more here.