I am a PhD candidate in Heritage & Sustainability, at the Faculty of Design Sciences, Heritage Department.
I worked as junior researcher and consultant in the heritage management field, specializing in participatory practices and sustainable development. My experience includes projects for public and private institutions, both in the academic and professional sphere, within fields of cultural policy, sustainable tourism, community engagement, fundraising and project development.
I believe in co-creation. I think that more inclusive management processes and governance are the key for a more sustainable development of communities, cultural resources and projects. I believe in sustainable development. I commit to tackling the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the implementation of participatory practices in cultural heritage management. I am a HULigan, therefore I work towards the implementation of the UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL).
I am the Emerging Professionals (EP) representative of the ICOMOS SDGs Working Group and an active menber of ICOMOS Nederland.
About my research:
"Heritage & Sustainable Development. Participatory heritage practices in historic cities"
Heritage & Sustainable Development is increasingly becoming high in societal agendas, being integrated part of debates on urban development, policy making, citizens’ quality of life, adaptive reuse and circular economy, among others. Within academia, Heritage & Sustainability studies are a growing interdisciplinary field, which includes a broad range of disciplines linked to environment, society and economy. Within the sustainable development discourse, heritage finds its mention in the 2030 Agenda (UN, 2016), in goal 11 – make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – target 4 – strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Heritage preservation is therefore considered a goal of sustainable development in itself, while contextually, much research is done, by academic, governmental and non-governmental institutions, to investigate the impact that its preservation and management has on the achievement of broader sustainability goals, beyond 11.4.
Participation is considered a fundamental principle of sustainable heritage management. The inclusion of multiple stakeholders in heritage processes is advocated in academic and grey literature, as well as encouraged in international policy frameworks. Participation to culture – and heritage – is acknowledged as a human right and as an indicator of social sustainable development in itself; contextually, it is considered an important means to achieve broader goals of economic, environmental and cultural sustainability.
The topic of inclusive heritage practices within the fields of heritage & sustainability has been addressed by means of case studies’ analysis worldwide, but little research has focused on the theoretical definition of participatory practices’ contribution to sustainable development goals. Moreover, case studies seldomly focus on the analysis of barriers and facilitating factors affecting participation, without providing knowledge on the dynamics which enables good practices and their positive impact. Furthermore, the study of singular local cases, as well as the comparison of few, fails to provide an international overview of current practices and prevent from offering opportunities for mutual learning among cities.
This research aims to fill these gaps by answering the question: does multi-stakeholders’ participation in heritage practices play a role in achieving broad goals of sustainable development in historic cities?
The investigation addresses the question in three phases: first, by reviewing academic and grey literature on participation within the heritage & sustainable development discourse, in the attempt to theoretically frame the nature and evolution of this developing field. Second, by exploring current participatory practices in urban contexts at an international level, looking for trends, similarities and differences between cities worldwide, by means of a survey and a workshop, organized in collaboration with the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Third, by investigating at a local level the system of barriers and facilitating factors which affect stakeholders’ participation in heritage practices and their impact on sustainable development goals in a city like Antwerp.
This research contributes to the advancement of the academic discourse on participatory practices in the Heritage & Sustainability field, while offering a theoretical base for policy-making, stakeholders’ participation strategies and, contextually, for the implementation of practices. Therefore, research results can facilitate future work and research, both global and local, both academic- and practitioner-led, to enhance inclusivity and foster participation’s impact on the achievement of broader goals of sustainable development.