December 7, 2022

On 30 November 2022, the Cities Project of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held an online exchange on the protection, development, and promotion of historical and cultural heritage, bringing together officials and representatives from Cartagena (Colombia), Lima (Peru), Lishui and Xiamen (China), and Embassy of the Republic of Colombia in China.

Cultural and natural heritage are of outstanding value to humanity. The historic components of a city together with its natural environment provide a framework for livability and well-being. The Global South host a large number of World Heritage Sites, which demonstrates great demand for and possibilities of South-South Cooperation for better and more connected world heritage sites of the South.

In Songyang County of Lishui, China, the Songgu Irrigation Scheme was included in the list of World Heritage Irrigation Structures (WHIS) in October 2022. Mr. LIANG Haigang, County Mayor of Songyang, introduced how the county dealt with the relationship between the new and the old so that the historical and cultural heritage will re-link contemporary life.

The historical Old Town of Cartagena, Colombia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984. To improve the conservation and management of historic urban areas, information and communication technologies (ICT) were applied, such as installing sensors to evaluate building conditions and monitor visitor flows. Ms. Mariana Carulla Arreaza, Technical and Strategic Advisor of the Institute of Heritage and Culture of Cartagena, Colombia, highlighted the “Smart Heritage City” strategy improves decision-making and facilitates conservation and cost optimization.

From upper left to bottom right: Songyang County (Lishui, China), Cartagena (Colombia), Gulangyu Island (Xiamen, China), Lima (Peru)

Similar to Cartagena, Gulangyu Island of Xiamen, China is famous for its colonial architecture. Mr. LIAO Xiaodong, Deputy Director of the Gulangyu Management Committee, presented how the local government enriches historical buildings with programs such as bookstores, museums, and workshops to promote sustainable tourism and expand its cultural influence.

For Lima, in Peru, it is essential to value buildings and sites from different time periods to make sure they can blend and coexist in the historic urban landscape. Mr. Luis Martín Bogdanovich, General Coordinator of the Peruvian Network of Cultural World Heritage Cities and Manager of the Municipal Program for the Recovery of the Historic Center of Lima, Peru, underlined the importance of improving the social and environmental conditions of residents, as well as working with both the public and private sector for investment promotion.

At the closing, Mr. Luis Jorge Roa Corredor, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Colombia in China, expressed appreciation for UNOSSC’s event organization and hopes to promote more cities between Colombia and China to establish friendly relations and South-South Cooperation.

About South-South Cities Clusters

The UNOSSC Cities Project seeks to promote South-South and Triangular Cooperation at the city and local levels. The South-South Cities Clusters are part of the South-South Galaxy virtual platform that facilitates information sharing, knowledge exchange, networking, and project collaboration among cities, local authorities, UN agencies, and other development partners. Currently, it offers interactive thematic spaces on:

  • COVID-19 Response and Public Health
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation in Resilient Cities
  • Sustainable Tourism, Heritage Protection and Creative Economy
  • Sustainable Agriculture Value Chain Development
  • E-Commerce, Digitization and Smart Cities
  • Sustainable Transport and Air Quality
  • Waste Management, Green Cities and Renewable Energy