Enhancing food-related heritage in UNESCO designations to foster sustainable development

The 2019 edition of the international workshop on UNESCO Designations and Sustainable Development will take place in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions, Italy from 20-25 October 2019, with a special focus on the relationship between food, heritage and cultural activities.  Its main objective is to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, through the advancement of institutional and professional capacities of managing authorities, communities and relevant operators from different UNESCO designations coming from both the Culture and Science sectors.


UNESCO designations consist of the most known global networks of territories and communities that are committed to safeguarding their cultural and natural resources as drivers for local sustainable development. Relevant actors faced with the challenge to define long-term policies and short-term actions to effectively manage UNESCO designations, in order to fully harness their development potential while, at the same time, safeguarding their cultural and natural values.

Such objectives can be achieved solely through an integrated and participatory approach, spanning several policy areas and ensuring the active engagement of all relevant stakeholders. Based on these principles, workshops were held in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 in Turin and Piedmont, Milan and other venues in Italy. 104 participants from 49 different UNESCO designated areas benefited from this series of workshops so far and are now connected by a community of good practices and knowledge exchange.

In accordance with the overall spirit of this series of workshops, the programme is intended to contribute to advancing professional and institutional capacities of managing authorities, heritage bearers, and other relevant practitioners from UNESCO designations on the mentioned subjects, to increase the benefits for the local communities and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.​

Special attention is paid to “multiple designated areas”, i.e. local territories with a concentration or proximity of more than one UNESCO designation, to analyse the potentialities, challenges and possible experiences related to the coordination and integration between different designations.

The workshop primarily aims at local government agencies and other relevant actors responsible for the management/safeguarding of World Heritage properties, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks, UNESCO Creative Cities, as well as elements inscribed on the UNESCO Lists and Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Other practitioners such as professionals in local development agencies, independent experts, scholars/researchers, staff from international organizations or NGOs, etc. can also apply.

In line with this series of workshops’ cross-disciplinary and dynamic approach, this year’s programme offers a combination of lectures, panel discussions, presentations by participants, and visits to case studies and local communities.

The special theme of the 2019 workshop is the relationship between cultural and natural resources, food and food-related practices as a driver for sustainable development in UNESCO Designations.

In particular, the meeting will aim at sharing experiences, defining good practices, and discussing creative solutions on the integration of food-related practices - from production to consumption - in the management of UNESCO designated areas and the safeguarding of the related cultural and natural resources, in order to ensure an appropriate and equitable balance between conservation, sustainability and development.

Within this framework, specific sub-topics to be addressed in this edition embrace:

- Integrated management models for cultural and natural resources, exploring emerging approaches, tools and practices to effectively engage multiple stakeholders and to better integrate food-related cultural and natural resources within local development programmes.

- The role of creativity and innovation in community based development, to understand how the synergy between food-related heritage and cultural and creative industries can sustain inclusive social and economic growth in UNESCO designations.

- Tools and practices to facilitate the management and development of food-related sustainable tourism at UNESCO designated areas, through fostering increased awareness, capacity and balanced participation of all stakeholders.

The event is organized by Fondazione Santagata for the Economics of Culture and UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, in cooperation with: City of Turin/Torino Design Week 2018; City of Milan; Alba Creative City for gastronomy; Fondazione Ordine Mauriziano; Parco del Monviso; Ente Turismo Alba Bra Langhe Roero; and, Fondazione CRC.

Associated partners include: Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO (Sofia, Bulgaria); University of Turin - UNESCO Chair; IULM University - Innovation Lab, Milan; and, University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo.