The Foundation for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage of Rabat held a conference on “African Urban Heritage: Challenges of Preservation and Issues of Development”, on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in partnership with the Ministry of National Land Management, Urban Planning, Housing and Urban Policy, the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication and UNESCO. The meeting was as part of the triple commemorations of “Rabat, African Capital of Culture”, “10 years of Rabat on the World Heritage List” and “50 years of the 1972 Convention”.
The meeting was officially opened by the Ministers of National Territorial Planning, Urbanism, Housing and Urban Policy, an of Youth, Culture and Communication as well as UNESCO World Heritage Center Director, Mr. Lazare Eloundou Assomo.
People attended to this conference, urban planners, architects, academics, researchers, institutions and stakeholder representatives. The conference was also broadcast live by videoconference; confirming broad interest in a topic essential to the sound preservation of heritage in all its forms.
Nine experts from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, conducted the event with a view to presenting notions of safeguarding urban heritage through recognizing it in the first place, and subsequently adjusting protection measures to specific contexts and problems. Contributors presented case studies on rich heritage sites in Africa (including Senegal, Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Benin, Mauritania, Morocco, etc.), illustrating how architecture is the result of a broader urban approach. Protecting architectural heritage consequently needs to be part of a comprehensive urban approach and Rabat is a success story in this regard. The event consisted of two panels, the first dealing with historical urban centers and the second addressing modern heritage. The second panel featured presentations on the role of the 1972 Convention in safeguarding modern and historic heritage in terms of architecture and urban expression, as well as an approach focused on Historic Urban Landscape and reconciling the historical strata within a city.
The challenge is to preserve the identity of African cities, as physical testimony of the multiple historic facets and cultural values they embody, while preserving universal accessibilitý, for future generations. Culturally sensitive urban strategies are essential to creating resilient and inclusive modern cities.
The meeting offered valuable insights into successful experiences and best practices in safeguarding urban heritage, inspiring inclusive and comprehensive approaches to developing African historic cities, and setting a basis for sustainable and responsible planning and management tools.
The conference is part of the Foundation’s “Workshop” program, designed to bring together heritage stakeholders through national and international exchange platforms for practitioners, researchers, institutions and civil society.
The program offers a variety of formats (workshops, meetings, conferences and round tables) to promote the sharing of expertise, information and best practices, while consolidating networks and encouraging collaborative efforts and partnerships.
All platforms stem from the Foundation’s determination to provide optimal conditions for genuine dialogue and attentive listening, thereby fostering convergence of views among stakeholders and building collective intelligence.