Care for environment

The second half of the twentieth century has been a period of increasing international collaboration, reflected in the activities of UNESCO and the other international organizations. The period has been marked by a growing consciousness of the built and natural environment, of the limits of resources on earth, the explosive population growth, and the huge differences in the share of wealth, food, water and energy. The previous belief in unlimited progress based on technological growth and consumption has been demonstrated to be unsustainable. At the 'closing' of the era of the so-called 'industrial revolution' in westernized countries in the 1960s, the focus has shifted on information management - still in full progress at the end of the century. Furthermore, the political, economic and social changes accelerated since the fall of the 'Iron Curtain' in Europe, in 1989, have had consequences in the different world regions facing a variety of new challenges.

One of the emerging issues is the new definition of the role of governments and public authorities in view of the increasing involvement of the private sector in community planning, the decision-making process and funding. This increasingly globalizing view of the heritage means that the question is no more about state-owned properties but of the entire patrimony of a nation. The founding President of ICOMOS, Pietro Gazzola, having travelled extensively, summarized the trends in this regard before and after the

Venice Charter. In his view, the 1960s marked an important change considering that:

'the ensemble of properties that referred to cultural history came to constitute the cultural heritage of a nation. This meant a shift from the criteria related to protection of things of remarkable interest (1931 Athens Charter) to criteria related to conservation of an ensemble of things including the single object, the urban environment, and the landscape, which together formed the testimony of a culture, of a significant evolution, of an event. All this was with reference even to modest works that had acquired cultural significance over time'. (Gazzola, 1978:242)

The concept of conservation had thus evolved from dealing with 'historic and artistic work of the past', in 1931, to also include 'more modest works of the past which have acquired cultural significance', in 1964, and to recognizing, e.g., Europe's unique architectural heritage as 'the common heritage of all her peoples', in the 1975 Amsterdam declaration of the Council of Europe. In other words, the concept of relativity of values was now being applied by national authorities to assess the properties not only for their individual merits, but as a representation of the entire national heritage. It was noted that heritage conservation should be integrated in community life as an essential part of the activities of a society. This same policy concept was clearly expressed in the general principles of

Figure 9.45 The historic centre area of Recife, Brazil, where efforts are made to introduce new activities after a long period of neglect in the 1990s. Buildings are painted in bright colours in order to attract investors

Figure 9-46 A spontaneously built, 'slum' area outside the historic centre of Recife, where the quality of life may be better than in some planned areas. The municipality is considering the construction of infrastructures

the 1976 Recommendation of UNESCO concerning the Safeguarding and Contemporary Role of Historic Areas.

Every historic area and its surroundings should be considered in their totality as a coherent whole whose balance and specific nature depend on the fusion of the parts of which it is composed and which include human activities as much as the buildings, the spatial organization and the surroundings. All valid elements, including human activities, however modest, thus have a significance in relation to the whole which must not be disregarded. (art. 3)

The Recommendation further states that such areas and their surroundings 'should be regarded as forming an irreplaceable universal heritage' (art. 2). Considering this broad definition of heritage, Gazzola emphasizes that the questions of economics and use have become dominating factors in decision-making dealing with heritage resources. Such emphasis, however, would mean ignoring the cultural dimension of heritage, and the 'plus-value' that such cultural properties would reach. Therefore, Gazzola notes, it is essential that areas that have been recognized for their heritage value be managed according to the principles of conservation and not simply by planning and renewal as was customary in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since the 1970s, there has been an increasing awareness of the limits of growth, as declared by the Club of Rome in the 1970s, and a concern for the ecological situation on the earth, recognized by the conference of Stockholm in 1972, the Habitat conference in Vancouver in 1976, and the Rio de Janeiro conference on the environment in 1994. The causes and principles for the consequent need for sustainability in development were written out in the Brundtland Report of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (United Nations, 1987). This report did not specify conservation of cultural heritage, but it prepared a basis for it, and the environmentally sustainable plans of several countries have successively started taking into

Figure 9-47 The historic centre of Bologna was well known for its conservation plan in the 1970s. Safeguarding and rehabilitating historic fabric was justified by interpreting it as a 'social service' to inhabitants

account the built historic environment as a substantial national resource and capital investment requiring careful conservation management. This approach was confirmed in the declaration of the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul, in June 1996 (Habitat, 1996).

Towards the end of the twentieth century, the world scenario in relation to the management of heritage resources has thus changed radically since the Second World War. The rapid growth of tourism and an increased communication have been additional factors in this development. The issue of conservation of cultural heritage has been applied to an increasingly broad spectrum of properties, and, at the same time, the policy of environmental sustainability in the development of the built environment has become essential as a part of the survival strategy on earth. The two policies have many issues in common. In both cases the question is about management of existing resources; the purpose of sustainability is to meet the demands placed upon the environment by people and commercial or other functions without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for itself and future generations (Hyde Peyton, 1996; United Nations, 1987).

Applying conservation policies to large territories means integration of heritage values into the planning process; this requires that the population is ready to recognize the values, and is favourable to the process (Feilden and Jokilehto, 1993). The process is not without conflicts of interest resulting from different value judgements - often to the detriment of historic features in urban fabric or of traditional types of functions in the community life. In any case, values depend on the community, and need to be continuously regenerated as part of a learning process. It is the relative social attribution of qualities to things or to the environment that makes them valuable to us (Zancheti and Jokilehto, 1997). This means that the conservation of cultural heritage, in the future, will be increasingly dependent on the educational process guaranteed by the society, and the continuous communication and regeneration of values within communities.

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