Heritage Conservation
Developing a Heritage Conservation Strategy

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-106. March 2020.

Why heritage conservation?

Conserving urban heritage - historical buildings, festivals, art forms, dance, music, sculpture etc. - may seem less of a priority compared to more pressing issues such as infrastrcture development, poverty alleviation or job creation.

But, in the long run, effective conservation of heritage resources not only helps in preserving and safegaurding the resources, but also in revitalizing local economies, and in bringing about a sense of identity, pride and belonging to residents.

This document explores the seeds of a heritage conservation strategy for a local area, in a series of eight short documents

Heritage ...
 and urban identity / pride
...  is more than history
...  needs community participation
 and involvement
...  leads to well-being / human security
...  is critical to job creation
 and poverty alleviation
...  helps preserve intangible local cultures
...  strongly influences sustainability goals
...  through localization, contextualization
 and customization.
Heritage Conservation
... and urban identity/pride
A good heritage conservation strategy is critical to build a strong urban identity and pride in our cities and towns.


eritage Conservation and urban identity/pride - A good heritage conservation strategy is critical to build a strong urban identity and pride in our cities and towns.

  • Urban Growth
    Cities, particularly in developing countries, have been steadily growing at a high rate, far outstripping population growth rates at the national or regional levels. This growth has also been a result of rural population migrating to urban areas to search for jobs and economic opportunities.

  • Multi-cultural diversity
    Cities therefore simultaneously present both a challenge and an opportunity for their sustainable growth, and for building a good quality of life. Most decision-makers fail to see the people themselves as a resource - as most of them come from different regions and cultures, bringing with them a broad multi-cultural diversity that can add to the 'salad bowl' of a city (and not the 'melting pot' as we always think it is!!)

  • Urban anonymity
    But without the necessary economic opportunities and jobs sought by urban populations, this has lead to a divided society of have's and have-nots, of skills, finances and access to resources. From a cultural perspective, this situation is manifested by the phenomenon of urban anonymity, of a culturally rich population unable to find ways to express itself.

  • Need for a 'handle'
    Providing opportunities for cultural and heritage expressions in a multi-dimensional society is a critical first step in any sound heritage conservation strategy. This requires a 'handle' - an anchor of sorts - to which people and their talents can revolve around. The inspiration can come in the form of a broader heritage 'platform' (literally and figuratively!) on which people can find opportunities to express their talent - which a city effectively offers!

  • Urban identity
    Many cities have reinvented themselves to develop this heritage platform by building and emphasizing their historical roots and cultural assets. Developing and facilitating such a platform gives credence and justification for a city to provide a distinct urban identity to cultural expressions and manifestations.

  • City pride
    The ultimate goal of all of the above actions - one that will ensure success of a heritage conservation strategy - is to develop pride in the residents of the city towards their culture and heritage. This will go a long way in facilitating active community participation in cultural heritage activities.


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Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org