OWHC 9th World Symposium, Kazan, 2007

The 9th World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) was held from June 19 to 23, 2007 in Kazan (Tatarstan), Russian Federation, under the theme "Heritage and Economics." The congress, organized by the City of Kazan in collaboration with the OWHC, included a scientific program and a pre-congress workshop for mayors developed by the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI).

The cultural heritage of historic cities is often perceived as a major asset for economic development and an important source of income for the city and its inhabitants. Increasingly, tourism exerts a major role in this regard. However, the protection and management of a city's cultural heritage also embodies other values, cultural as well as monetary, that need to be understood and safeguarded. The 9th World Congress examined the dynamic linkage between heritage and economics in greater depth and presented tools and guidelines to mayors for confronting the associated challenges with greater insight.

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The program was slightly modified from the prior congress to include: four keynote presentations given by leading experts in the field of heritage and economics; a plenary panel of mayors exploring the question "Is tourism enough?"; a poster session open to all participants; a students' session; and the pre-congress mayors' workshop.

To address the main issues faced by mayors of World Heritage cities in managing tourism, a panel of mayors was organized so that a select group of these officials could discuss—in front of the plenary audience—how they addressed the challenges that tourism posed in their respective cities. The discussion centered on the question: "Is tourism enough?," and addressed two issues: 1) public funds generated and devoted to heritage conservation; and 2) tourism carrying capacity in historic cities.

The objective of the students' program was to significantly involve university students from Kazan in the activities of the congress. This effort built upon the positive experience at the OWHC's 8th World Congress in Cuzco. It was anticipated in Cuzco and in Kazan that many of these students would become professionals involved in their city's preservation and development. Through a competitive process that began in fall 2006, Kazan students from various institutions developed projects on the theme of the congress, working over a period of six months. A total of twenty projects from six institutions were presented as part of the congress posters and as oral presentations in a student session. Students discussed their work with other students, as well as with congress keynote speakers, participants, and City of Kazan representatives.

The pre-congress mayors' workshop focused on an issue that many mayors confront in the protection of their cities' historic resources: how to reintegrate into the city's living fabric historic structures that have deteriorated, been left vacant, or are otherwise in need of adaptation to new uses. The mayors' workshop was a key event at the Kazan World Congress, as it helped draw attention of participants to some of the challenges facing Kazan. In addition, it set the stage for an interactive environment at the congress, one in which participants felt comfortable sharing ideas with colleagues in informal ways.

Last updated: December 2014