28 April – 2 May 2019 I BALI – World heritage cities are drawing big number of tourists every year as they do not only offer picturesque sites, but also the long history of human civilisation. It is estimated that the direct global value of culture and heritage tourism can be well over $1 billion dollars, with a significant share of it generated in the Asia-Pacific region. However, cities are facing growing challenges in protecting their heritage sites particularly from the impacts of climate change. According to the World Heritage Outlook report published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2017, climate change was identified as the biggest potential threat to natural world heritage, with an estimation that one in four sites is already being impacted.
Demonstrating cities’ resolve to preserve their cultural and historical pride, the IX International Conference of Eurasia World Heritage Cities was held in Denpasar, Indonesia, from 28 April to 2 May 2019, under the theme “Resilient Heritage and Tourism.” The event was jointly organised by Eurasia Regional Section of UCLG, with the support of UCLG ASPAC, the Euro-Asia Regional Secretariat of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), and the Municipality of Denpasar. At the kind invitation of Mayor Ida Bagus Rai Dharmawijaya Mantra, mayors, local leaders and city representatives from Canada, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, attended the event.
During the discussions, participants emphasised the need for effective preservation of cultural heritage sites which symbolise human civilisation as well as local pride for the cities. Under the theme of “Resilient Heritage and Tourism,” the sessions were focused on how cities can protect the World Heritage from climate problems such as extreme weather conditions. The discussions explored how local leaders can take concrete roles in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Actions. Ms. Saida Zagidullina, Director for Development of UCLG Eurasia, elaborated on the topic “SDG #13: The Role of Local Governments,” providing examples significant contributions to climate actions made by local authorities.
City representatives shared their projects and initiatives during the plenary session on Preserving Heritage in Climate Change including by Mr. Kamil Nugaev, Mayor of Bolgar, who presented measures to preserve the Bulgarian Historical and Archaeological Complex, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The significant role of NGOs in the heritage conservation efforts was further stressed. Finally, Ms. Leon Wai Man, Vice-President of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macao, explained that due to the geographical location of the city, its cultural center often faces typhoons, storm winds and other natural disasters. In order to ensure effective response, the city leadership stays in close contact with the managers of the heritage sites and provides them with all the necessary support.
In addition to policy and technical discussions, participants appreciated cultural and art programmes held at the international exhibition “Heritage of Eurasia” and the presentations of the Balinese culture and art, the heritage of Kazan, Moscow, Bolgar, Yaroslavl, Sviyazhsk, Osh and other cities. On the 2nd day, participants visited Bali’s cultural heritage, including Taman Ayun Temple which is a UNESCO heritage site.