Establishing a shared governance and management structure for World Heritage site of Bryggen, Norway

Guri dahl, Norges Verdensarv
Published: 25 July 2023
Last edited: 25 July 2023
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The World Heritage site of Bryggen, Norway, was inscribed on the Word Heritage (WH) List in 1979 for its characteristic wooden architecture and for its role as one of the oldest large trading ports of Northern Europe. The management of the Bryggen requires coordination with several actors at the national and local level, from national agencies to the local municipality and residents’ groups. Over the years, the management of Bryggen has evolved to include a series of actors and to establish a system of communication between different planning and development instruments. To achieve this, a new management structure including all key stakeholders was established and a new management plan has been prepared and adopted/accepted by local political authorities.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Coastal forest
Connective infrastructure, networks and corridors
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Cities and infrastructure
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas governance
Terrestrial spatial planning
Urban planning
World Heritage
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities


Bergen, Vestland, Norway | Bryggen, Bergen, Norway


Community and people-centred approaches are emphasised in World Heritage management and they are also included in the Operational Guidelines and other processes of the World Heritage Convention as well as in the Norwegian national framework for World Heritage management. However, one of the key challenges is that World Heritage is yet to be fully incorporated in Norwegian national legislation which raises some challenges in the actual involvement of communities and the application of people-centred approaches locally as part of the management of the World Heritage property of Bryggen.

Additionally, the experience of managing Bryggen as a World Heritage site since 1979 has also highlighted the need for more shared and participatory governance arrangements to reflect the wider panorama of actors involved with Bryggen World Heritage property.


The beneficiaries are the actors involved in the management of Bryggen as well as the municipality and the county as the Management Plan is politically accepted at local and regional level. Lastly, Bryggen also benefits from these participatory approaches.

How do the building blocks interact?

The establishment of a comprehensive management and governance structure for the World Heritage property of Bryggen has required a wider coordination between national, regional and local actors. The new local management structure has clearly defined roles and responsibilities for its three main actors - the WH and the Advisory Board and the WH coordinator - and the further development of management actions will offer a space to better define roles and mandates of different actors and stakeholders.


The management plan offers a connection between the World Heritage Board, the Advisory Board and the political authorities at local and regional level. Stakeholders involved through their participation in the Advisory Board, and the overall revision management plan, providing different types of inputs. Hence, the political acceptance of the management plan allows stakeholders to be involved in defining the framework for heritage management as well as for urban development in the adjacent area to the World heritage property.


The intention of establishing a new management structure focused on achieving stronger involvement of all stakeholders in the management of Bryggen World Heritage site and to directly involve politicians at both local and regional level. The establishment of a management structure and the management plan were a first step in putting in place a larger governance arrangement for the site but it will need more time to evolve and further develop. The process of defining and refining these arrangements is a continuous effort towards defining the role and mandate of World Heritage management at the site. Preparing and revising the management plan was a good opportunity for the local WH actors involved with the management of Bryggen to cooperate towards a achieving a common understanding of the sites heritage values and discuss how its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) can be maintained and strengthened, offering a common ground to identify improvements with the role and mandate of the local and national WH management structures and processes. The political endorsement of the Management Plan eases the implementation by the municipality and the county. It has become a tool for strengthening a holistic view and management of the property.

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Hege Agathe Bakke-Alisøy Bergen kommune