Impacts of common urban development factors on cultural conservation in world heritage cities: an indicators-based analysis

P. Guzman, A.R. Pereira Roders, B. Colenbrander

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Within the urban context, heritage conservation has been acknowledged as fundamental for sustainable development. This paper address the need to develop methodologies that enable understanding of the dynamics between these two fields that for long were regarded as opposing practices. The research crosses disciplinary boundaries through a mixed methodology that identifies 27 urban development common indicators as factors that are affecting the conservation of 69World Heritage Cities (WHC). Indicators, which were selected from global urban monitoring tools, were analyzed within UNESCO State-of-Conservation reporting system. Results reveal key trends on urban factors assessed as a SWOT analysis in relation to the management of WHC. We argue that urban indicators can facilitate the understanding of development impacts in cultural heritage conservation, across the social, economic, and environmental dimensions. This paper contributes to the debate on the ability of indicators to bridge interdisciplinary and methodological issues that were related to common conceptualizations between urban development and heritage conservation and sustainability. The conceptual approach that is presented has proven to offer an empirical basis for a monitoring practice that fosters the sustainable management of urban heritage, which in the light of the New Development Agenda and the gaps in the state-of-the-art, is very much needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number853
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2018


  • Historic urban landscape
  • Indicators
  • Sustainable development
  • Systematic review
  • World heritage cities


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