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United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
23 April 2007
PARIS, 23 April 2007
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Item 20 of the provisional agenda
JERUSALEM AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF
33 C/RESOLUTION 50
175 EX/DECISION 14
This information document contains the minutes of the second meeting of the International Committee of Experts on the Safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem which was held at UNESCO Headquarters on 4 and 5 September 2006 and is presented under agenda item 20.
INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF EXPERTS ON THE SAFEGUARDING
OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM
Paris, UNESCO Headquarters, 4-5 September 2006
32 C/Resolution 39 (adopted by the General Conference in October 2003) requested the Director-General to establish an equitably composed committee of experts to be entrusted with proposing, on an exclusively scientific and technical basis, guidelines for an Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, and proposals for its implementation.
The first meeting of this Committee took place on 25 and 26 January 2005. The guidelines proposed by its members provided UNESCO with a framework for initiating the elaboration of the Action Plan.
The Executive Board (174 EX/Decision 12) and the General Conference (33 C/Resolution 50) of UNESCO invited the Director-General to submit to the Executive Board at its 175th session “an Action Plan based on the guidelines proposed by the International Committee of Experts”.
Since September 2005, thanks to a generous financial contribution from the Government of Italy and the support of the Spanish Government, the Secretariat undertook a series of technical missions and studies, which were presented to the experts on the occasion of this second meeting.
The meeting was opened by the Director-General of UNESCO. In his address, Mr Matsuura underlined that, in the field of heritage preservation in the Old City of Jerusalem, progress had been made in the last months, thanks to the recommendations of the Committee and the active cooperation of the communities involved. The Director-General expressed the hope that UNESCO’s initiatives will benefit both the inhabitants and the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem, since the improvement of the social and urban environment is crucial to maintaining the universal values that justified the inscription of the site on the World Heritage List.
The meeting was chaired by the Assistant Director-General for Culture. In addition to the 12 members of the Committee, two of the experts contributing to the elaboration of the Action Plan also attended the meeting in order to present their work (see the list of participants in Annex I).
Several documents, presenting the results of the activities carried out so far, had been previously submitted to the members of the Committee for evaluation (list of documents in Annex II).
The working sessions were organized as follows:
• Presentation of the activities carried out and discussion on the reports;
• Inputs for the elaboration and implementation of the Action Plan;
• Draft of recommendations and conclusions.
I. PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION ON THE ACTIVITIES
I.1 Needs Map for the conservation of historic monuments and sites
This component of the Plan identifies all the historic monuments and sites of the Old City, their state of conservation, use, typology, thus generating a basic information tool to prepare conservation and possible adaptive reuse projects. In this first phase, monuments and sites have been identified, roughly surveyed and the data transferred on to a GIS. It was recalled that the aim of this Map and database was not to create an additional information source, but instead to gather existing information in previous similar maps and inventories, to serve as a basis for the specific purpose of the Action Plan.
More in detail, the activities undertaken are:
• analysis and integration of existing sources, with a resulting new inventory of 550 “objects”;
• definition of the information platform for the various identified categories of objects;
• preliminary survey of the identified objects, designed to enter the information directly in the GIS database;
• elaboration of the following thematic maps:
- historic periods;
- typology of buildings;
- architectural quality of buildings;
- current functions of the buildings;
- state of use of buildings;
- state of conservation;
- specific threats and risks;
- monuments and historic sites as components of the urban landscape;
• identification of “needs” for conservation interventions from the assessment of physical and functional threats and risks;
• definition of the priorities on the basis of selected criteria (see below, II.2.1);
• initial selection of 39 priority projects.
The Committee appreciated the work, which was achieved in less than six months, and recognized it as a very useful tool for future projects and compilation of further data.
The Committee proposed some amendments:
• include the City walls with their gates, towers and its different sections as a single inventory entry;
• in the future, include vernacular architecture;
• include the 1983 archaeological inventory;
• change the name of the “Needs Map”;
• at this stage, withdraw the “level of interest” classification.
I.2 Housing improvement
This component of the Plan aims at improving the quality of the housing stock and of the living conditions of the inhabitants, while preserving the ordinary architectural elements of the urban fabric as an essential component of the World Heritage Site of Jerusalem. Among the different activities planned, the first one undertaken involves the elaboration of a “Manual for housing maintenance and rehabilitation”.
The Manual is a practical and operational rehabilitation tool for professionals and craftsmen, designed to bring simple and illustrated answers to concrete problems. The draft submitted consisted of:
• an introductory 40-page booklet on types of architecture, building arts, transformation process of the urban fabric and the skyline of the Old City of Jerusalem;
• a set of 60 cards, proposing solutions to the most common rehabilitation issues encountered.
It is expected to be published in English, Arabic and Hebrew. A DVD of all the material will also be compiled with the three linguistic versions.
The Committee recognized the usefulness of such a tool to serve the rehabilitation of dilapidated housing units in the Old City. It is indeed urgent to find means to promote appropriate maintenance and repairs and to assist the inhabitants in improving their living environment while conserving the cultural heritage.
The Committee proposed the following:
• specify more clearly the target audiences in order to avoid inappropriate use of the Manual;
• develop a variety of graphic and written communication strategies tailored to the various target audiences;
• link the use of the Manual to the implementation of training and financing programmes;
• investigate the possibility of establishing local advisory mechanisms to assist the population in the rehabilitation process;
• organize a working session to finalize the drafting of the Manual.
I.3 Microfinancing scheme
In parallel with the preparation of the Manual, a feasibility study has been undertaken to explore a potential tool for the financing of housing rehabilitation projects. It consists of:
• an assessment of the microfinance market to generate empirical results on the demand for financial services among the low- and middle-income residents of the Old City, taking into account basic household repayment capacity. This assessment showed a very important potential demand;
• financial projections indicating that such a programme could serve up to 2,000 households within five years, with a portfolio outstanding of approximately US $5.4 million at the end of that period.
The Committee considered the study to be an appropriate starting point from which to envisage the establishment of a microcredit scheme in the Old City, noting however that the data need to be refined and the legal and financial dimensions further explored.
The Committee proposed extending the programme to small commercial activities and investigating whether a group of banks could be formed, one related to each cultural group that would be prepared to administer the microfinancing of the funds to the people of the Old City.
I.4 Cultural activities
After presenting an overview of the present situation for the sector, the proposal of the Secretariat focused on:
• strengthening some existing cultural institutions;
• developing arts and sports activities for youth;
• promoting crafts and cultural tourism.
Some of the cultural activities identified could take place in renovated houses or premises, connecting this component of the Action Plan with the rehabilitation projects. The report prepared by the Secretariat was most welcomed by the Committee, and the proposed activities agreed upon unanimously, notably as they can be implemented in the short term and based on the reinforcement of existing institutions.
II. SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE ACTION PLAN
The Committee expressed its appreciation of the work accomplished. The possibility of publishing these studies was discussed as well as the adoption of a common format. It was recommended that the information presented be harmonized.
Besides the remarks made to improve the existing work, additional input was proposed to complete the draft Action Plan and to move into the second phase, building upon five main pillars:
1. information database;
2. conservation and rehabilitation projects;
3. training and awareness-raising:
- rehabilitation manual;
4. cultural activities;
5. funding mechanisms.
II.1 Setting up a consolidated information database
The setting up of the database should be based on the extension of the work already done, starting from the above recommendations related to the Needs Map.
II.2 Conservation/restoration projects
II.2.1 Criteria for selecting projects
The following general and feasibility criteria for the selection of priority conservation projects, identified and presented by the expert, were approved:
(a) to represent a sample of different historic and cultural layers;
(b) to represent a sample of the different categories and typologies of monuments and sites, with a high level of architectural and/or spatial interest;
(c) to respond to specific conservation “needs” mainly with reference to (i) threats to architectural integrity and (ii) structural risks;
(d) to demonstrate a strong concern for awareness-raising, community participation and capacity-building;
(e) to be diffused and connected to (or representing) strategic “nodes” or “trails” in the urban fabric, so that conservation projects on buildings could act as a catalyst for a wider rehabilitation process of the Old City, in the framework of a more comprehensive urban layout.
(f) to respond immediately to social pressures promoting economic and cultural revitalization as an integral part of a sustainable conservation process;
(g) to give priority to interventions of reuse on empty buildings and dilapidated or underutilized open spaces, in connection with criterion (f), but also to improve access and visibility of monuments and historic sites;
(h) to give priority to the rehabilitation and repaving of the major streets, particularly the stepped ones, in order to improve accessibility for disabled people, garbage collection, and the overall environmental context;
(i) to give priority to the rehabilitation and restoration of the special features related to the main streets pattern, in order to ensure their preservation and increase their visibility.
The Committee added additional suggestions for evaluating the possible projects:
• include the reference to the unique, distinctive and spiritual aspects of the place (“genius loci”);
• take the social needs into account when selecting the projects;
• place an emphasis on housing by choosing some “model projects”;
• consider unused buildings to be rehabilitated for community-oriented activities;
• consider projects having a multiplier effect;
• develop projects for the public realm;
• develop “streets projects” as multipurpose model projects;
• involve the inhabitants in the rehabilitation projects.
II.2.2 Selection of projects to be developed among the proposed list
The Committee considered that the above criteria should be applied when selecting priority projects among the list proposed. Additional projects could also be considered, following the specific requests of the concerned parties. The feasibility of such projects is to be studied carefully in close consultation with the two focal points and the local stakeholders.
When identifying a project, the fact that it could serve as an on-the-job training opportunity should be kept in mind.
Among the projects, the Committee and the concerned communities recommended the following for detailed conservation studies:
• St John Prodromos;
• St James Cathedral;
• Etzhaim Yeshiva;
• Hammam Al-Ain;
• street projects including the sabils (e.g. Bab el Silsileh);
• Al Aqsa Museum;
• open spaces.
II.3 Training and awareness-raising
Training was identified as one of the essential means to promote appropriate maintenance and repairs, keeping in mind the exceptional situation where available professional labour force is very limited. In particular, the need to diversify the tools, developing a variety of graphic and written communication strategies specifically adapted to the various target audiences, was stressed. The use of these tools is to be linked to the implementation of training and financing programmes (see above, I.2). The following items were suggested:
• training programmes for architects, engineers and contractors to engage them directly in the activities for the protection of the Old City;
• training programmes for local craftsmen to develop specialized conservation skills that will meet the conservation and maintenance needs;
• create a simple and comprehensive information tool to be used by the local population for basic housing maintenance;
• awareness-raising programmes among the youth on the conservation of the heritage of the Old City;
• develop apprenticeship programmes encouraging contractors to train young people and offering them to support the costs;
• design a “test” project for the application of the Manual;
• link the above-mentioned to on-the-job training projects;
• include academic programmes (provide different layers of training).
II.4 Cultural activities
The Committee strongly recommended the Secretariat to start implementing some of the proposed cultural activities as soon as possible, in the form of pilot projects, based on existing local institutions and to explore the possibility of developing the others in the medium term as follows:
• provide artistic activities for the youth: DREAM Centre at Burj al Laqlaq;
• develop activities using new technologies: start the Digiarts project: “sights and sounds of my city” as a pilot project which could be expanded to other schools (Makash project at Al Quds junior high school).
Both activities could further be extended to other schools in the Old City.
• improve the use of the space available at Burj al Laqlaq;
• establish a crafts workshop in Hamman Al Ain;
• expand the activities of the Al-Mamal foundation by renovating the ancient tile factory nearby.
• preparing a compendium of cultural facilities within the Old City of Jerusalem;
• training youth as assistant tourist guides.
The Committee encouraged UNESCO to identify fundraising tools to mobilize international support to carry out the conservation of the cultural heritage of the Old City.
The proposal to conceive and publish a brochure containing preliminary project descriptions accompanied by budget estimates, in order to present the chosen priority projects to potential donors for funding, was agreed upon by the Committee. This booklet, which could also be made available online, will be the first tool to implement the activities foreseen in the second phase of the Action Plan.
Perfectly aware of the difficulty of the situation, the Committee encourages UNESCO to continue implementing the identified activities, in consultation with the various parties in order to overcome the obstacles, and it hopes that all authorities and institutions will cooperate constructively for the conservation of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The Committee expressed its willingness to remain at the disposal of the Director-General for the follow-up of this important matter and thanked him for his confidence.