On September 8–11, 2009, nearly five hundred participants from forty-five countries gathered in Quito, Ecuador, for the Tenth World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. This event, organized by the OWHC in collaboration with the municipality of Quito and the Getty Conservation Institute, marked the third time the GCI has joined with the OWHC and the host city to deliver the biannual congress, following previous collaborations in 2005 (Cusco, Peru) and 2007 (Kazan, Russia).
The World Congress of the OWHC is a unique forum, bringing together politicians and professionals who are committed to the preservation of historic cities, particularly those inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Since the first world meeting in 1991, this event has enabled participants to discuss topics of common interest, to share experiences, and to learn about new strategies for meeting the challenges associated with the conservation and management of World Heritage cities.
The theme of the 2009 congress was "Revitalization of Historic Centers: How to Involve All Social Actors?" To explore this theme, the GCI and congress organizers developed a dynamic scientific program consisting of various activities, including three keynote presentations, group discussions centered on questions raised by the presentations, a poster session featuring analyses of case studies, a panel on public-private partnerships, and a concluding session that summarized the most relevant ideas presented during the congress.
A pre-congress mayors' workshop, presented by the GCI, provided an opportunity for mayors to discuss common issues and responsibilities faced in the management of World Heritage cities and to utilize the city of Quito as a case study of regeneration efforts that have taken place in some of the city's most important historic neighborhoods.
The GCI's collaboration with the OWHC has been central to the GCI's current work within the Institute's Historic Cities and Urban Settlements Initiative. The initiative’s long-term goals are to contribute to the enhancement of practices in the field of conservation and management of historic cities and settlements, and to address critical needs and issues through the implementation of targeted projects ranging from research and education to fieldwork. The initiative will be informed by the results of a survey of practitioners and an experts meeting carried out in 2009. Additional research undertaken thus far has allowed the GCI to identify critical gaps in the existing body of knowledge related to this area of work and will give further direction to the development of appropriate and effective methods and materials for the conservation of historic cities.
For an electronic version of the 2007 Kazan congress proceedings and further information on the GCI's Historic Cities and Urban Settlement Initiative, visit the initiative's Web site.
Proceedings of the 2005 Cusco and 2009 Quito congresses will be available online by June 2010.