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Canberra: An international heritage perspective

Tuesday 17 September 2013, 6-7pm

Bookings essential at
Visions Theatre, National Museum of Australia

Lecture by urban heritage management specialist Dr Ron van Oers

Urban planner Dr Ron van Oers offers a new perspective on the conservation of Canberra as a 'city in the landscape' as he outlines new international thinking on the conservation of historic cities. Dr van Oers coordinated the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape initiative to update international guidelines for heritage conservation from 2005 to 2011. He is now vice director of the World Heritage Institute of Training for Asia and the Pacific, under the auspices of UNESCO, in Shanghai.

'Canberra: An international heritage perspective' is presented by the Australian National University's Humanities Research Centre as part of the conference Shaping Canberra: The lived experience of place, home and capital.

Embroidery depicting houses, land and roads.
Dividing the Farm embroidery by Ruth Hingston, 2012. Private collection.

UNESCO and the Historic Urban Landscape initiative

In 2003 UNESCO's World Heritage Committee raised concern at the significant increase in the number of conflicts arising from urban development projects in historic cities on the World Heritage List. It noted that local governments in many parts of the world were struggling to adhere to international principles of urban conservation while trying to secure investment for urban regeneration and city development. Recognising that this dilemma involved all historic cities, not only those with world heritage status, the Committee asked UNESCO to muster international support towards finding a solution fit for all cities of heritage-value.

Starting in 2005 and lasting for six years, UNESCO facilitated and coordinated the Historic Urban Landscape initiative, to review and update existing international guidelines for heritage conservation. This process concluded with the adoption of the new UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape in November 2011, a 'soft-law' to be implemented by individual member states on a voluntary basis.

Canberra: An international heritage perspective

Ron van Oers was UNESCO's coordinator for the Historic Urban Landscape initiative from 2005 to 2011. In Canberra: An international heritage perspective, Dr van Oers will provide an overview of international thinking on the conservation of historic cities and how changes in perception have occurred. He will also explain the challenges and shifts taking place in urban conservation, with examples taken from the 250 historic cities registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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