Built heritage and Agenda 2030 : Embedding heritage values in the spatial planning local agenda

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The UN Agenda 2030 is abundantly clear on the intertwined nature of sustainable development, as a combination of socio-economic and environmental aspects. Less explicit emphasis is posited on the role played by culture, identity and history and their contribution to pursue sustainable development. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goal 11 encompasses strengthening efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. This is measured by the total expenditure per capital on the preservation, protection and conservation of all cultural and natural heritage. However, successful heritage preservation and conservation strategies rest not only on capital investments, but most importantly on how they are embedded in the spatial planning procedures and instruments and on the level of protection they ensure to the existence of the built heritage as such. Failures in recognizing the existence value of heritage assets may cause significant flaws in the governance of preservation, particularly in growing urban areas under the pressure of the real estate market. This paper engages with the complex issue of embedding heritage values in spatial planning local agendas, by instrumentally discussing a purposely selected case study. It is suggested that although heritage values are socially constructed, still the intergenerational justice principle of sustainable development should urge for applying the precautionary principle while dealing with heritage assets, because of their non- replaceable nature. This paper concludes that the existence value of tangible heritage should be more explicitly recognized in Agenda 2030, by incorporating a target indicator allowing to track permanent loss of built heritage. Shifting from the international to the local scale, this paper also concludes that overreliance on the notion of spatial planning as political discourse may pave the way to slippery paths in heritage conservation policies, leading to the permanent loss of non-replaceable assets. It is anticipated that the paper concludes that local planning decisions on heritage conservation should be subjected to the precautionary principle and not being left into the political negotiation domain.
built heritage, SDG11, Agenda 2030, spatial planning