Heritage-led Development: A Systemic Approach

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The Sustainable Development Goals show a new emphasis on cultural heritage and present an opportunity to review our framing of what development is and how it can be achieved. For the first time, heritage is specifically included in these efforts, on Goal 11’s target, even if for several decades culture has been pointed out as a key element of sustainable development, namely seen as a 4th pillar. But the discussions on how heritage sites and entities can contribute to improve their communities still need to increase their impact on the mechanisms of planning and decision-making.
The concept of heritage-led development, of using cultural and natural legacies to promote growth and improvement, is particularly relevant in postindustrial areas. These areas, where industrial activity has ended or diminished significantly, are today one of the most pressing and problematic areas for development, especially if they are not located in or near urban centres. They present an urgent need to find ways to achieve the sustainable development of communities who feel ‘abandoned’, left with the inherited social, economic and environmental consequences of their industrial past.
To address how heritage and its professionals could lead transition in these communities, the author proposes the framework of systems science, seeing the area as an organic organism, where the heritage elements can reinforce the parts of the system connected to social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainable development, allowing for an integrated and interdisciplinary vision of the messes we find in these places.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOther Landscapes of Cultural Heritage(s):
Subtitle of host publicationhistory and politics
EditorsNuno Lopes, Walter Rosa, Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo
PublisherImprensa da Universidade de Coimbra
ISBN (Print)978-989-26-2331-3
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Sustainable Development
  • Cultural Heritage
  • Systems
  • Deindustrialization


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