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The World Bank and the J. Paul Getty Trust have agreed to an operational partnership to sustain cultural heritage in developing countries—to support access to, conservation of, and education about cultural heritage.

The agreement—signed at the Getty Center in Los Angeles in October 1997 by James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, and Harold M. Williams, then-president and CEO of the Getty Trust—reflects the World Bank's growing interest in the cultural field and its increasing efforts with a number of institutions to integrate cultural heritage as a force in promoting sustainable development. For the Getty, the partnership continues a longstanding commitment to forging broad alliances on a global scale—in conservation, education, scholarship, information technology, and museology.

"In every country I have visited," said Mr. Wolfensohn, "I have seen the importance of a sense of history and a link to the past. For real development to occur, it should be grounded in the culture of the people—drawing strength from their history. I am proud that the Bank and the Getty can help people preserve and pass on their heritage."

"We have always worked in close collaboration with other organizations around the world," said Mr. Williams. "Now, by combining the experience and resources of our two organizations, the Getty-World Bank partnership will generate needed attention and support for some of the most important cultural heritage sites that are at risk."

The World Bank and the Getty Trust will strengthen their activities related to cultural heritage by working together to:

  • identify specific operations and projects on which they can collaborate to protect and sustain cultural heritage—the Getty, for example, providing expertise to World Bank-assisted projects;
  • jointly undertake pilot projects in cultural heritage and develop a research and evaluation agenda to assess the performance of these projects;
  • develop the World Bank's knowledge of current international standards of conservation and documentation practices and identify potential applications of Getty expertise;
  • mobilize financial and institutional resources for these objectives.