Collaboration among UNESCO Sites: Case studies in Florence

On 16-19 April 2024, representatives of a number of European UNESCO Sites will meet in Florence, Italy, for an initiative organised by the UNESCO Office for Science and Culture in Europe (based in Venice), to reflect on the importance of regional cooperation with regard to managing various UNESCO sites.

Erto e la frana sopra la diga di Vajont. Ph. Luciano Gaudenzio

Ph. Luciano Gaudenzio

Dolomites, case study

The contribution of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation will focus primarily on cooperation with programmes that have greater regional continuity or partially overlap, such as the “Alpi Ledrensi e Judicaria” Biosphere Reserve and the Dolomites that are part of the “Adamello Brenta” Global Geopark. Despite the already rich complexity of managing a Serial Property, such as that formed by the nine Dolomite Systems, the possibility of collaborating with other UNESCO awards will offer an opportunity to share good practices and achieve the shared goal of consistently preserving globally recognised natural, landscape, cultural and documentary features.

A pocket guide to “neighbouring” sites

The Dolomites comprise one of six recognised Natural Heritage Sites in Italy. If we were to “refine” the search for UNESCO sites by selecting those closest to it in a geographical or thematic sense, we would find – in addition to those already mentioned – other sites falling under the Man and the Biosphere programme, which focuses on a balanced relationship between man and the environment, such as “Monte Grappa” and the “Alpi Ledrensi e Judicaria”, or other World Heritage List Sites that fall within the domains of Cultural Heritage or Cultural Landscape but are closely linked to the alpine environment or are geographically close to the Dolomites area such as the “Prehistoric Pile-Dwellings of the Alpine Area” and the “Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene”. There is a very close link between the theme of responsibility for the conservation and management of a Natural Heritage and the values that determined inclusion in the International Memory of the World Register of the “Vajont Process Archive” which has been stored in the State Archives of Belluno since 2010, after its transfer from the trial headquarters in L’Aquila following the 2009 earthquake. And if we also include the Intangible Cultural Heritage programme, here we see the emergence of practices inextricably linked to the anthropological history of the Dolomites, such as “Alpinism” and Transhumance, the seasonal droving of livestock, recognised in 2019 and 2023, or the “Art of Dry Stone Construction” which also helped to shape the landscape imagery of the Dolomites, as well as “Timber Rafting”. Even if Italy isn’t among the signatories of the nomination, considering that it is no longer practiced in the country, the testimonies along the rivers that descend from the Dolomites are kept alive in memory and historical re-enactments.

Different strands for a single weave

These are just a few examples of how the recognitions of the various UNESCO programmes can be interwoven, bearing witness to unique natural, cultural and documentary features, which can be joined together, if the managing bodies know how to cooperate within the context of a single mission for the active protection of what a region holds most precious.