Heritage Place Lab, interlinking research and practice for improving World Heritage management

World Heritage Leadership Programme
Published: 01 April 2022
Last edited: 01 April 2022
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The World Heritage Leadership Programme (WHLP) is facilitating linkages between research and practice in order to support World Heritage site management and policy-making by applying a heritage place approach into a research-practice laboratory, the Heritage Place Lab. The intention of the Heritage Place Lab is to function as an incubator of practice-led research agendas for specific World Heritage properties, but also servicing a larger range of properties facing similar issues, by promoting research projects  whose findings can have positive benefits for site management and promote site management practices that can shape future research. The pilot phase of the Heritage Place Lab consisted of six online workshops held across a period of one year. During these workshops, site managers and researchers worked collaboratively to explore real World Heritage place issues and concerns that can be addressed through practice-driven  research.


Central America
East and South Africa
North Europe
South America
South Asia
West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Buildings and facilities
Desert ecosystems
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Green spaces (parks, gardens, urban forests)
Hot desert
Rangeland / Pasture
River, stream
Temperate evergreen forest
Tropical deciduous forest
Tropical evergreen forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Cities and infrastructure
Disaster risk reduction
Ecosystem services
Food security
Indigenous people
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
Science and research
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Urban planning
World Heritage
Urban and Disaster Risk Management
City management, governance and finance
Sustainable urban infrastructure and services
Ecological challenges
Glacial retreat
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Shift of seasons
Volcanic eruption
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Poor governance and participation
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals


Italy | Quebrada de Humahuaca, Argentina; Okavango Delta, Botswana; Asante Traditional Buildings, Ghana; Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala; Jaipur, India; Rjukan-Notodden, Norway; Machu Picchu, Peru and Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe.


The World Heritage system provides space for exchange between academic researchers and practitioners, however, such collaboration has not been sufficiently and systematically undertaken. The Heritage Place Lab aims to activate these networks by addressing the following challenges:

- Weak connections between academia and site management;

- Lack or limited exchange between researchers and practitioners from the natural and cultural heritage fields;

- Lack of direct impacts of heritage research on site management;

- Limited research that addresses site management issues;

- Lack or limited platforms to promote applied research for World Heritage; and

- Lack or limited platforms to promote interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and knowledge systems dialogues, including Indigenous and local knowledge for World Heritage.


World Heritage system actors, including researchers, site managers, youth, local communities, Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention, heritage practitioners.

How do the building blocks interact?

Establishing partnerships between institutions sets the foundation to initiate the Heritage Place Lab process (BB1), in order to commit the Research-Practice Teams on the participation of the online incubator workshops (BB2) and the publication of outputs (BB4). Assessing the management effectiveness as a collaborative work between researchers and site managers (BB3) enabled the streghtening of the parternships, and the development of the outputs.


The Heritage Place Lab has enabled:

  • The establishment or reinforcement of partnerships between research institutions and site management authorities;
  • The networking between researchers and site managers accross 4 world regions and 8 World Heritage properties, including historic cities, protected areas, archaeological sites, cultural landscapes, vernacular built heritage and industrial sites;
  • The development of practice-led research agendas for World Heritage properties;
  • The testing and formulation of a research-practice model of collaboration that can be scaled-up in other heritage places.

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World Heritage Leadership Programme ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership