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Promoting Cultural Heritage as a Generator of Sustainable Development
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Context / background. Over the last decades, in an era of holistic and integrative thinking for sustainable development, Cultural Heritage is gaining attention of scholars and policy makers alike as an instrument for sustainable development. Critics consider use as a threat to heritage, leading to commercialization, exploitation and destruction. The view, however, that heritage preservation occurs when heritage elements are in actual use, thus generating revenue to sustain preservation is gaining momentum. Further, there are arguments that many if not most of the benefits derived from cultural heritage are realized only in the course of actual use. Economic science has recently developed pertinent tools and concepts, initially used for environmental goods and services that are suitable in assessing the economic value of Cultural Heritage and help realizing its development potential and at the same time supporting preservation. Objectives. The Strategic objectives of the project are to promote public awareness for the sustainable development potential of cultural heritage and to establish social initiatives building new entrepreneurial partnerships investing on local and regional cultural heritage. These objectives are in line with the transversal policy priorities for education, training and youth, as defined by Europe 2020 for building a "smart, sustainable and inclusive economy." This overall concern is addressed by means of the sustainable, social-economical and environmental, positive effect of cultural heritage; a field entailing a dynamic potential touching all the aforementioned factors and highlighting a transnational common ground. Number and profile of participants. The project aims to directly reach 2200 people who will be directly involved in four countries through seven partners and a series of activities. However, the project objective is to reach a high multiple of this number indirectly because it is investing on rising public awareness on the dynamic potential of cultural heritage for sustainable development. In that sense, the indirect benefit of the wider public, apart from the people participating in its activities, is inherent in the project logic. Throughout the project's implementation a series of occasions for contact with a wider audience and set of interlocutors exist. Description of activities. Project activities include creating a platform as an interactive tool for information and communication, surveying international good practices, developing material that will be useful for training individuals in cultural heritage in general and related social entrepreneurship initiatives in specific, customising the pedagogical material by allowing its adaptivity to different local contexts, organising seminars and hands-on workshops, together with open lectures and on-line videos for deepening as well as disseminating project outputs. At the same time some project activities are more tailor-made for the entrepreneurial audience, administrative authorities and consumers at local level, while others target the academic community. Methodology to be used in carrying out the project. The main issue that this project addresses is a change in thinking of stakeholders on how they approach cultural heritage. For achieving project objectives, the project will start with a survey of best practices at global level of cultural heritage based sustainable development and of how opportunities and barriers were addressed. Subsequently, project partners will apply this knowledge to survey the local context in three case studies. These case studies will be investigated using thematic analysis for opportunities and barriers of using cultural capital for growth and sustainable development. On the basis of the results of the case studies project partners will develop educational material for skill development, entrepreneurship strategies, institutional initiatives and public awareness. The resulting integrated framework of practice for a cultural heritage based sustainable development model will be the major output of the project and will be disseminated across the EU. Potential longer term benefits. The project provides a paradigm at the European level. It will raise awareness about the development potential of cultural heritage and will equip stakeholders with knowledge on how to weigh the different values and trade-offs between conservation and development. Furthermore, the project will help local and regional authorities to introduce incentives that are essential for achieving integrated conservation. Finally, the project is expected to enhance the combination of public and private investment to promote both, economic development and heritage preservation. The project is expected to have a substantial development impact on local and regional economies, responsible institutions and communities, demonstrating that culture can and should play a major role in development programmes.
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