1972-2022. World Heritage in transition. About management, protection and sustainability

Half a century has passed since the ratification of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. In this timespan, different things have changed: starting from the definition of heritage, which has become increasingly inclusive, embedding visions and cultures that would not have received the same prominence fifty years ago; to the extension of the geographical scope in which the principles of the Convention are applied; to the intended use of World Heritage properties, different and diverse depending on cultural and social contexts. The states of conservation, modalities of access and fruition, numbers of users, and the nature of the objects have changed. However, the objective of identifying, protecting, preserving, enhancing and passing on to future generations the cultural and natural World Heritage of the planet, through the implementation of a system of international cooperation and assistance, remains unchanged. The commitment of the States Parties to the Convention to make the protection of the World Heritage more integrated with wider territorial planning tools, through adequate safeguard  actions  from  the  legal,  scientific, technical, administrative and financial point of view, remains valid. At the same time, efforts have been made to strengthen the focus on education and the awareness-raising of heritage values, through the training of qualified personnel, the establishment of interdisciplinary and intersectoral specialised centres, as well as international cooperation.

In addition, changes in settings and contexts have affected the risks World Heritage properties are exposed to: alongside natural and anthropogenic degradation phenomena, in recent decades risk factors related to climate change, the rapid increase in tourism numbers and the intensification of political instability and armed conflicts, in combination with the role in identity-making attributed to monuments, have intensified, with consequent impacts on physical, social and cultural fabrics.

Fifty years after the ratification of the Convention, it seems useful to attempt to reflect on what happened in these past decades: to propose an interpretation of how the processes of protection, management and enhancement of World Heritage have evolved over time; how the increase in the number of sites  and  the  involvement  of  different geographical and cultural areas have affected decision- making processes; how the emergence of new phenomena has influenced the process of inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

On the occasion of both the official celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Convention, titled The Next 50 and held in Florence, as well as the 40th anniversary of the inscription of the Historic Centre of Florence on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the University of Florence and the Municipality of Florence are promoting two days of dialogue and discussion with the aim of involving scholars, professionals and decision-makers to reflect on the main themes of the Convention and its future development and implementation.

The event aims at shedding light on the ways in which World Heritage has been able to unite people, places and experiences at a global level, fostering the production and dissemination of theories, strategies and practices to protect and safeguard cultural and natural heritage, in a perspective of a people-centred sustainable development based on the understanding and on the wider use of heritage values.

Conference program

The Conference is structured in the following themes, coordinated by members of the Scientific Committee.


  1. Charters and Conventions: evolution of the notion of World Heritage
    • The Charters at the test of time
    • The different geographical interpretation of heritage
    • Case studies: how, where, when
  2. Protection and safeguarding of World Heritage
    • Strategies, methodologies and processes for heritage conservation
    • Techniques and products for heritage conservation and restoration
    • Environmental requalification and natural heritage protection
    • New technologies for the documentation, analysis, cataloguing and safeguarding of tangible and intangible heritage
  3. Man, nature and climate: World Heritage properties at risk
    • Methodologies and tools for the identification of risks
    • Analysis and assessment of anthropogenic, natural and climate- related impacts
    • Climate-related impacts on World Heritage. Studies, sustainable approaches and techniques to preserve World Heritage properties
    • World Heritage and armed conflicts. Management and protection strategies to preserve endangered properties
  4. The soft power of the World Heritage List
    • UNESCO and cultural diplomacy
    • World Heritage: politics, identity and human rights
    • Networks and associations for the enhancement of World Heritage properties
  5. The management of World Heritage properties
    • Community involvement and empowerment
    • The importance of heritage values in new management systems
    • The evolution of management models: research and projects for future developments
    • Sustainable tourism
  6. From the concept of monument to the Historic Urban Landscape approach
    • Sustainable and holistic management strategies of urban landscapes
    • Evolution of the Historic Urban Landscape
    • Planning and use of public spaces in World Heritage properties
  7. Knowledge and capacity building
    • Capacity building and higher education: universities and research institutes as hubs for international cooperation on World Heritage
    • The role of museums as tools for protection and development
    • Interpretation, awareness and transmission of heritage values
  8. NEW: Session 8


In order to participate in the conference, it is necessary to send an abstract (in Italian, French or English) with an indication of the objectives,  methodology  and  results  of  the  research. The abstract (max 2000 characters including spaces) must contain: title, name of the author(s), institution/affiliation, e-mail, 3 to 5 keywords, and the "identification code" of the contribution (indicate the number of the theme your contribution refers to – 1. Charters and conventions: evolution of the notion of World Heritage; 2. Protection and Safeguarding of World Heritage; 3. Man, nature and climate: World Heritage properties at risk; 4. The soft power of the World Heritage List; 5. The management of World Heritage properties; 6. From the concept of monument to the Historic Urban Landscape approach; 7. Knowledge and capacity building. The name and contact details of all authors must be submitted with the abstract.

Abstracts and contributions should follow the templates provided by the conference organisation.

The abstracts must be submitted by June 15, 2022 in pdf to The file has to be named as follows: surname, first letter of the name_number of the thematic nucleus of reference. i.e.: SmithJ_2.pdf
Authors will be notified of their admission to the conference by June 20, 2022, after a review carried out by the Scientific Committee. The authors will be asked to send the full paper for a further revision. The organising committee reserves the right to ask the authors to make any changes/additions suggested by the Scientific Committee.

Submission full paper

Template full paper

Editorial Rules

Norme Editoriali (ITA+ENG+FRA)

Dates and Deadlines

15th June 2022: abstracts submission deadline (2000 characters, including spaces)
20th June2022: abstracts acceptance notification
30th August 2022: submission of full contributions (12000 characters, including spaces, footnotes and captions
9th September 2022: notification of the revision of the full paper
30th September 2022: full paper submission deadline
November 2022: publication in a special feature of the journal «Restauro Archeologico», edited by Firenze
University Press, which has been rated as "Class A" by Anvur (the Italian rating agency for scientific journals) using the VQR (Research Quality Evaluation) system.

Conference fees

Conference fee: 200€
Reduced fee for PhD and master’s students: 120€
Reduced fee for ICOMOS and SIRA members: 180€



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