European Heritage Days

Journées européennes du patrimoine
Greater Autonomy for Heritage Communities in the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century

Living in peace, improving quality of life and preserving the collective memory are some of the key issues related to the “social component” addressed in the European Cultural Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century. Advocated by Namur Declaration, which was adopted at the 6th Conference of the Council of Europe Ministers responsible for Heritage in 2015, the strategy aims to promote best practices in heritage management, improve current heritage policies and help create peaceful societies.

Built around social, economic and knowledge components, the strategy discusses key issues in the field of heritage and outlines a set of recommendations for overcoming the major challenges. The recommendations include detailed steps that should be taken in order to create sustainable policies for heritage management, protection and enhancement to support three priority components listed above.  

Within the “social component,” the preliminary draft texts of the strategy address “the relationship between heritage and societies, citizenship, the transmission and sharing of values and good governance through participatory management,” highlighting the following goals:

  • Living in peace
  • Improving quality of life
  • Contributing to people’s well-being and good health 
  • Preserving the collective memory
  • Establishing good governance
  • Promoting participatory management
  • Optimising the implementation of the conventions
  • Promoting an inclusive approach to heritage


Recognising these goals as areas where a greater participation of local authorities and community groups is key to improvement, the strategy advocates a greater empowerment of heritage communities.  As a key factor of the “the social component,” heritage communities need to be more actively involved in processes related to preserving local heritage sites and traditional European values.

“It is urgent to reposition heritage policies at the heart of an integrated approach focusing on the conservation, promotion and appreciation of the cultural heritage by both local communities and individuals from outside those communities.”

More specifically, the strategy aims to enable local authorities and communities to work in favour of the heritage and its management, support heritage communities in their attempts to reveal and rehabilitate forgotten heritage and otherwise participate in heritage preservation and protection activities. Such a focus echoes Faro convention, in relation to which the strategy suggests that heritage communities should take “ownership” of heritage “to bring it alive and make it “meaningful” for the population.”

Covering these aspects, the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st Century is set to bring significant improvements in the field and its adoption is expected by the end of the year. The draft texts of the strategy are presented at the meeting of CDCPP heritage experts on 3rd and 4th May 2016 and are available for download here.