Management Plans: A tool for participative decision-making

Elena Kountouri, Constantina Benissi and Julia Papageorgiou

Cite this as: Kountouri, E. Benissi, C. and Papageorgiou, J. 2018 Management Plans: A Tool for Participative Decision-making, Internet Archaeology 49.

1. Introduction

The involvement of more and more stakeholders in decision-making processes is a demand of our society and an element of democratization. The participatory management of public goods touches upon all policies. Among them, the management of cultural heritage is a field where we can develop a collective decision-making process for at least two reasons: first, it refers to goods people regard as common heritage, and second, participation in this process is perceived as a democratic right. It is worth noting that the Council of Europe website places cultural heritage under the Democracy section and considers that access to it is associated with the identity, collective memory and mutual understanding amongst communities. In addition, participatory governance is referred to as one of the four main priorities of the Namur Declaration (in para 4.4), a text that first defined the objectives of the European Heritage Strategy for the 21st century of the Council of Europe.

The above general principle of inclusivity is applied in different institutional and heritage management systems across countries, in which the degree of involvement of the different stakeholders may vary. This article, based on the experience of Greece, attempts to show that, even in a system characterised by the exclusive jurisdiction and, to a large extent, ownership of State on cultural heritage, and the consequent wide competence of state agencies in the protection and management of monuments, it is possible to develop a framework for broader participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning strategic planning for monuments.

2. Preparing a Management Plan

The need for an integrated management plan is increasingly acknowledged among practitioners in the cultural heritage sector who recognise not only the need to adopt new practices for the conservation of monuments, but also the demand to interact with the natural, social and economic environment of monuments. This approach overcomes the concept of the 'physical' conservation of heritage and leads to a broader and multi-layered management concept that takes into account a wide range of factors that may, positively or negatively, affect a cultural property.

Within the framework of the World Heritage (WH) Convention, the need for management plans results from the fact that monuments and sites inscribed on the WH List must meet a number of criteria that demonstrate their 'Outstanding Universal Value'. Therefore, the system used for the protection and management of the property should ensure that its values, as well as the conditions of integrity and authenticity, must be satisfied at the time of inscription and maintained or improved in the future. This is the reason why a management plan is considered as an integral part of a nomination file which ensures the existence of strategic planning for each property and covers all aspects of its management, setting clear priorities, goals and timetable.

Since 2005, a management plan has been a prerequisite for every new nomination to the WH List. However, older nominations, as is the case for the majority of Greek WH sites, have been inscribed on the List without one. Therefore, it is now a priority for the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports to prepare plans, both for all Greek properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and subsequently for other important monuments and sites.

The content of a management plan depends on many factors, such as the type of cultural property, its size, special characteristics and needs, and its broader environment. However, one can discern some common elements:

  1. It reflects the needs and possibilities of a site or monument
  2. It describes and prioritises objectives and actions for its protection, conservation, and enhancement, as well as for the dissemination of its values to the widest possible audience
  3. It includes short, medium and long-term planning
  4. It incorporates methods for measuring the effectiveness of the different levels of intervention and users' satisfaction, so that the results of these measurements can be taken into account for the assessment and possible update of the management plan

The implementation of a management plan, therefore, has a decisive contribution to make for the effective protection and conservation of the monument, but also for the upgrading of the services provided to citizens, the increase of the number of visitors and the triggering of economic growth. In other words, management decisions have a broader impact on large groups of citizens, whose attitude and views should be taken into account in planning procedures.

In this context, the methodology developed in recent years for the drafting of integrated management plans investigates possible ways for enhancing stakeholders' participation in decision-making processes. At this point the enormous contribution of the World Heritage "system" — and in particular that of the World Heritage Centre (WHC) and the three advisory bodies to the Convention (ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN) — to the development of the integrated management plan concept, and the dissemination of the relevant methodology, should be underlined. Here, it is worth mentioning the two significant publications of the WHC 'Managing Cultural World Heritage' and 'Managing Natural World Heritage' that serve as indispensable tools for preparing the management plan of every new nomination. The decisive contribution and the pioneering character of the official texts of the Convention and its implementation procedures for establishing a culture of openness to society and promoting participatory processes in the decision-making for the management of cultural and natural properties, should also be noted. Paragraph 111 of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention, among the essential elements of a management system, points to the:

"...thorough shared understanding of the property by all stakeholders, including the use of participatory planning and stakeholder consultation process."

In this framework, the World Heritage system enhances the shift from a narrow and one-dimensional perception into a social conception of cultural heritage which acknowledges its function in the life of the community, according to article 5 of the Convention.

3. Identifying and engaging stakeholders: procedures and challenges

A key issue for the success of a management plan is the identification of stakeholders and the comprehension of the ways their wishes and attitudes affect the monument, as well as the opportunities and challenges linked to their possible involvement in the various phases of preparing and implementing a management plan.

The UNESCO resource manual entitled 'Managing Cultural World Heritage' gives the following definition of a stakeholder:

'A stakeholder is any person or organization that can be affected by the plan or that could influence its success. Other stakeholders are those who have an entitlement resulting from an obligation or from the requirements of the law'

Nowadays, it is acknowledged that a large number of social groups influence the preservation of cultural goods through their decisions, wishes or attitudes. This is because the concept of cultural heritage is increasingly broadening, including more categories of cultural goods, both tangible and intangible. At the same time, cultural heritage interaction with its natural and social environment is widely recognised, and is being further investigated. Therefore, the inclusion and balance of stakeholders' views is an important part of the drafting process of a management plan, so as to be applicable and effective and gain the necessary institutional, political, social and economic support for its implementation.

In the case of Greece, according to its legislation and administration system, the State through the Ministry of Culture and Sport is responsible for the protection, conservation, presentation and enhancement of monuments. Consequently, in the context of this discussion, the Ministry of Culture and Sports is the main stakeholder, and thus responsible for the identification and coordination of the other stakeholders, which, according to their competence and role, can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Competent central agencies (Ministries): e.g. Ministry of Environment and Energy, Ministry of Tourism, etc. Their involvement is based on the institutional and legal framework of Greece, and consequently they are engaged in issues related to monuments through formal procedures. However, in the context of a management plan, the challenge is the shift from the exercise of competence by the various agencies to the creation of a system of shared responsibilities and joint policies based on common objectives. In this way, the policy for monuments becomes part of a broader spatial, urban and development planning, a provision also included in the Greek archaeological law.
  2. Local Government: Regional authorities and Municipalities are crucial partners in the drawing up of management plans. Whereas the central agencies exercise competence by the setting of overall policies, the local government is the level of administration that is closer to the monuments and their users. Moreover, in the context of the administrative decentralization, an ongoing procedure currently underway in Greece, the local government gains a central role in the allocation of resources to the monuments.
  3. The Orthodox Church and representatives of other religions and doctrines: This applies to cases where the monument still has a religious use.
  4. Institutions of civic society, NGOs, research and educational institutions, etc.: Although characterised by heterogeneity and different degrees of involvement depending on the scope, infrastructure and expertise, the role of this category of stakeholders gains increasing importance in the management of cultural heritage. Their involvement is the main element that gives a management system a more open and democratic character. Among this category, one can distinguish various groups, such as: a) cultural associations, unions of citizens and NGOs acting in the region, b) the educational community, c) research institutes e.g. Foreign Archaeological Schools, universities, etc.
  5. Professionals acting in the region: These include tour operators, guides, local producers, etc.
  6. Owners and users of monuments. This category refers to specific types of cultural goods, notably urban centres and religious monuments.

If the official involvement of the first two groups in the decision-making process is provided for by the institutional framework or other established procedures, the involvement of the other groups of stakeholders requires a new administrative culture and practice. Depending on the type of monument, in cases where it is possible to identify many stakeholders, this increases complexity when setting participatory processes. Therefore, the procedure to be selected has to be realistic and manageable, and must set clear roles and responsibility levels at all stages of drawing up and implementing the management plan.

Despite the complexity mentioned above, the benefits that can arise from the participatory processes are numerous, for example:

However, it should be noted that the processes may also involve certain risks or negative aspects that should be taken into account. These include:

In the case of Greece, the Ministry of Culture and Sport, as the main competent state agency, has to develop communication and interaction modes, more or less structured, with the other stakeholders. A first step for the recording of various views and opinions is using the everyday experience of the Ministry's services and archives. Citizens claims, complaints and demands, local initiatives and actions, local press and websites all constitute a valuable source of information on the attitudes of citizens regarding monuments, the way they perceive their value, the expectations they have, as well as the possible conflicts of interest or practices that compromise the integrity of monuments.

Beyond this, participation in decision-making requires a more dynamic opening to the other stakeholders. In this context, various committees and working groups, workshops, individual meetings with stakeholders for recording opinions and public hearings can be organised. The web can also be an important tool for gathering input from a wide range of citizens through public consultation processes. Finally, in the case of World Heritage sites, we should also consider the parameter of the international community's interest, and the role of the WH Convention bodies, whose participation may be essential in the process. For example, in the case of Mount Athos, a cultural property of Greece inscribed on the WH List since 1988, the consultation process in order to draw up a Management Plan is being carried out among the Holy Community of Mount Athos, the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, along with the representatives of the International ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre.

4. Examples of good practice

A recent positive experience was the drawing up of the archaeological site of Philippi management plan in view of its nomination to the WH List. The preparation of the file has proved to be a good example in dealing with obstacles and opposing opinions among stakeholders, in view of the common perspective, namely the inscription of the site on the WH List, which was achieved in 2016.

The nomination of the archaeological site of Philippi received strong support from the local authorities and the local community. The site, always visible, has been diachronically a point of reference for the local residents who developed a strong connection with it. The relationship of the local community with the site has been reinforced by two additional elements a) the religious character of certain monuments, notably those associated with the presence of the Apostle Paul in the city of Philippi during the 1st century (religious events still take place within the site), and b) the Festival of Philippi, a cultural event in the region since the 1950s, hosted in the restored ancient theatre. Therefore, during the preparation of the nomination file, local authorities undertook an active and supportive role, a consistent attitude throughout the nomination procedure, despite changes in the administrative boundaries of the municipalities and the local authorities' leadership.

It is noteworthy that, at the suggestion of the Municipality, two open debates were organised to presentat the objective of the site's inscription on the WH List to the local community, and to communicate both the opportunities and commitments arising from the WH property status. The positive climate helped to address two key issues for the management of the site.

The first issue was related to the need for delineating protection zones according to Greek legislation. A point of conflict was the delimitation of the nearby Krinides village and the area within which special construction and land-use conditions should apply. The common objective of the nomination created a dialogue framework which resulted in a compromise that serves the benefit of the antiquities while also considers the current needs of residents. A system of protection zones has been established ensuring that the inscribed archaeological site of Philippi belongs to a non-construction zone and benefits from the maximum level of protection according to the Greek national legislation, as it is appropriate for world heritage sites.

The second issue was the existence of a modern road within the site's boundary serving the connection of two large cities in the region, Kavala and Drama, as well as the access to the nearby village of Krinides. The abolition of the road which interrupted the functional and visual unity of the archaeological site was deemed a major management issue. The inscription process has largely contributed to the making and implementing a decision for the abolition of the road, the prohibition of traffic and its exclusive use for the needs of the site, with the consent of all parties involved.

The inscription has also created a new spirit of cooperation among the research institutions working in the field for many decades. Specifically, the French Archaeological School at Athens, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the local Ephorate of Antiquities, after many years of archaeological activity on the site signed a five-year protocol of cooperation which assured that research and excavations plans will be linked to the needs of the site. They also agreed to give priority to excavations in areas where visitor pathways are planned, and to remove rubble of old excavations in order to restore the landscape.

A positive experience has also been gained from the cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Foreign Archaeological Schools on sites where the latter conduct historical excavations, as it is the case of the American School of Classical Studies in Ancient Corinth or the German Archaeological Institute in Kerameikos, Athens. The Greek legislation actually provides for a number of obligations on the part of the Foreign Archaeological Schools and Institutions regarding the conservation and, if appropriate, the enhancement of excavated areas in collaboration with the Services of the Ministry. Nevertheless, an integrated management plan gives a new perspective to this collaboration, shifting from the concept of legal obligation to a participatory procedure and leading to a more coordinated and target-oriented planning for the benefit of monuments while respecting the institutional role and the objectives. This joint planning is carried out through extended working groups which draw up proposals to address the site's needs, and so contribute to prioritising and making appropriate preparation ahead of future projects.

5. Conclusions

Over the last few years, a broad discussion has been carried out at an international level over the importance and the degree of participation of various stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning the management of cultural heritage. This discussion falls within a wider context which extends to various sections of public life and is associated with the demand for democratization of our societies.

In this framework the contribution of the World Heritage "system" to the development of a "culture" of openness towards society and promotion of participatory procedures during the decision-making process for the management of monuments is largely acknowledged. Therefore we consider that the preparation of the Management Plans for the Greek WH sites within the spirit of the World Heritage Convention will be a valuable experience for larger involvement of stakeholders in decision-making processes. The positive outcomes so far come from the preparation of the nomination file of Philippi, as well as from our collaboration with Foreign Archaeological Schools, and give us new perspectives that could be utilised for the management of other important monuments and sites throughout Greece.


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