Many of the world heritages have been born within the context of a city, evolving with the growth of the city and adding colors to its urban landscape all the while. However, World Heritage Cities are facing a multitude of challenges these days brought by armed conflicts, wars, earthquake and other natural disasters, reckless urbanization, over-commercialization and disinterest of their residents.
Recognizing such challenges, 56 cities that have on their territory a site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List gathered together in September 1993 in Fez, Morocco. There, the Organization of World Heritage Cities(OWHC) was officially founded with the mandate to empower cities to seek sustainable development while preserving the coexistence with their heritage sites. The OWHC is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization that connects more than 300 cities worldwide that house the World Heritage Sites considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value as defined by the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
The OWHC’s main objectives are
to favor the implementation of the World Heritage Convention
to encourage cooperation and the exchange of information and expertise on matters of conservation and management of urban heritage
to develop a sense of solidarity among its member cities
To this end, the OWHC organizes World Congresses, conferences, seminars and workshops dealing with the challenges to be met in the realm of management and strategies pertaining to the preservation and enhancement of historic cities. Moreover, the OWHC offers to its member cities many programs and projects including Jean-Paul-L’Allier Prize for Heritage, International Video Production Competition, Solidarity day of World Heritage Cities, Case Studies and others which aim to promote and support the maintenance, recognition and enhancement of their world heritage for those living in and traveling to the cities.