Hanoi Declaration on Historic Urban Landscapes



The 380 Participants from 26 countries at the Twelfth International Seminar of Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage held in Hanoi, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam (5 – 10 April 2009) entitled "Historic Urban Landscapes: A New Concept? A New Category of World Heritage Properties?"


in particular with regard to Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage

2.1 The fundamental role and responsibility of Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage is to promote understanding, exchange and cooperation between universities, agencies, and practitioners researching, teaching and working with heritage. As a platform of sharing knowledge and dialogue it is a fundamental and central contribution to the wider roles and responsibilities of UNESCO;

2.2 Such research, teaching and practical work should take into account the aspirations and requirements of communities affected by the management of historic centres;

2.3 The presence in Hanoi of six UNESCO Chairholders (Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus, Germany, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Israel, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, University of Dresden, Germany, Ritsumeikan University, Japan and Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation at the Katholiek University Leuven, Belgium) proves the major interest for Forum UNESCO - University and Heritage as a unique tool combining Higher Education with Heritage;

2.4 This tool should be coordinated, continued, developed and oriented in order to inform, raise awareness and educate academic staff and practitioners through graduate programmes and research about new trends and reflections expressed by UNESCO in the fields of heritage at large and World Heritage in particular, including academic exchange meetings, symposia and conferences;

2.5 Participants in this Seminar have appreciated and acknowledged the research efforts that have been done by the Vietnamese and international scholars to study and understand the cultural heritage of Hanoi City;

in particular with regard to the City of Hanoi

2.6 The presence of the Chairperson of Hanoi People’s Committee, Chairperson of the Vietnamese National Commission for UNESCO, Vietnamese leaders of the Ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Construction and Foreign Affairs, and Rector of Hanoi Architecture University proves the great interest of national authorities of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam for heritage issues in general and for Historic Urban Landscapes in particular, in a time of rapid urban transformations in Hanoi. Furthermore, this high level presence at the Seminar is in line with 181EX/45, par 4 of UNESCO Executive Board on the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Hanoi City;

2.7 The presence at the Seminar of the Chairpersons of the Vietnamese Associations of Heritage, Architects, Urban Planners and Historians further demonstrates the commitment of professionals to the protection of Hanoi’s heritage. Thus the interest of academic and practitioner communities of Hanoi in this Seminar symbolizes the interchange of human values in architecture and urbanism;

2.8 The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Construction of Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and Hanoi People’s Committee have made a lot of efforts to protect and promote the cultural heritage of Hanoi City, such as the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, Thang Long Hanoi Citadel and Ancient and French Quarters, thus illustrating the high priority given to the sustainable development of modern cities by taking their traditional values into consideration;

2.9 The authorities of Hanoi People’s Committee and Hanoi Architecture University are acknowledged for having graciously and successfully hosted the Seminar in Hanoi, being a city of cultural layering on the eve of its 1000th anniversary celebration;

2.10 The joint commitment of both Hanoi People’s Committee and Hanoi Architecture University in hosting this Seminar is a commendable initiative to raise awareness of Vietnamese universities and the general public about:

  • a/ the importance of protecting significant urban heritage in a time of rapid and accelerating urban developments such as in Hanoi City;
  • b/ the need for a sustainable development of cities to be integrated with the consideration of heritage values and cultural identities;
  • c/ the urgency to include environmental considerations along with heritage conservation policies;
  • d/ the need to connect professional heritage practitioners and academic communities with city authorities;
    and e/ the integral role of communities and local people in the identification, conservation and development of heritage values;

in particular, with regard to Historic Urban Landscapes,

2.11 The institutional efforts made over the past ten years by UNESCO have extended the dialogue on Historic Urban Landscapes as a holistic conception for the city that includes sustainable physical, social, cultural, environmental and economic development;

2.12 The discussions on Historic Urban Landscapes have brought a wide variety of views in 378 abstracts submitted, thus proving the interest of the worldwide academic community in the topics of visual, functional and physical integrity of Historic Urban Landscapes;

2.13 The numerous methodological and operational procedures regarding the identification, assessment, management and monitoring discussed by the participants have made a significant contribution to the current reflection on Historic Urban Landscapes;

2.14 Historic Urban Landscapes are a fundamental and integral part of the environment of communities who live within them or who have association with them; and neither the designation of historic urban landscapes nor academic research into Historic Urban Landscapes should be to the detriment of local communities;

2.15 All policies relating to and affecting Historic Urban Centres and Cities should respect the lifestyles of communities living and working within such Historic Urban Landscapes since these lifestyles represent a significant component of the communities’ intangible cultural heritage and should make provision for appropriate access requirements and cultural rights;

2.16 These lifestyles, access requirements and cultural rights should be respected as much as the tangible elements of the Historic Urban Landscapes despite the fact that they may on occasion involve invisible or intangible relations or values which need innovative tools for academics and professional practitioners to perceive, appreciate, or classify;

2.17 Historic Urban Landscapes are an expression of cultural diversity resulting from a permanent and continuous process of cultural layering that has tangible form to which symbolic and intangible values are attached and understood through sensory perception, local knowledge and investigation of the interconnections between these layers.

2.18 The prime consideration in relation to action is the heritage value of Historic Urban Landscapes;


with regard to Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage

3.1 The World Heritage Committee and Centre should be supported in their efforts to promote a new UNESCO Recommendation, integrate relevant ideas that have been discussed in this Seminar and develop a more permanent platform for dialogue between UNESCO and the network Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage;

3.2 Debates concerning the importance of Historic Urban Landscapes in the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention should be reflected in higher education curricula and particularly in research through relevant UNESCO Chairs and other academics;

3.3 The proceedings of this Seminar should be made available for use by the World Heritage Committee, its Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre;

3.4 Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage should continue to interact with the ongoing reflection of UNESCO and related institutions to encourage participation of local and national universities in programmes, research and training and link UNESCO to grass roots initiatives which are as important as top-down decisions; applied research should be encouraged in conjunction or coordination with the local or national authorities, jointly determining subjects of priority;

3.5 UNESCO should encourage its Member States and the private sector to contribute to the work of Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage through the provision of funds for fellowships that will allow members to participate in its future activities;

3.6 Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage members as academics and heritage professionals involved actively at local and national level with urban communities, have a responsibility to raise awareness, knowledge and understanding of Historic Urban Landscapes where appropriate;

3.7 UNESCO and its World Heritage Committee should capitalize on the human resources of Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage members and more especially UNESCO Chair-holders have a responsibility through their graduates of training the trainers and linking their activities of conservation and technological and material adaptation for the continued evolution of the Historic Urban Landscapes with communities and other institutions;

3.8 The academic community may remain at a grassroots level with certainly a less structured action than international organizations but certainly more plural, complementary and diverse views;

with regard to Hanoi City

3.9 The translation and publication in Vietnamese of key texts reflecting the current conception of Cultural Heritage as integrated and holistic should be encouraged;

3.10 Vietnamese universities should be provided with the means to do research and teaching on heritage issues in general and the World Heritage Convention in particular;

3.11 A training centre should be created in Hanoi to train staff employed in the conservation and management of cultural sites in or around the capital including the Thang Long-Hanoi Citadel as well as administrative staff employed by Hanoi People’s Committee; this institution should also train guides about heritage issues, principles and practices;

3.12 Training of the media in heritage should be considered as crucial;

with regard to Historic Urban Landscapes

3.13 Universities have an important contribution to make to Historic Urban Landscapes as a vast new conceptual territory to explore;

3.14 The 378 abstracts submitted to this Seminar prove the interest for Historic Urban Landscapes on the part of the academic community worldwide. Furthermore, the papers presented reflect the wide variety of tools available and the dramatic cultural interpretations and perceptions of Historic Urban Landscapes. The many concerns raised regarding the broadness of the concept prove the broadness of Historic Urban Landscapes conceptual territory, which is still to be explored through research;

3.15 Research on Historic Urban Landscapes, especially education and applied research beneficial to urban communities, should be encouraged. The application of known tools and methodologies as well as the testing of new ones should be done;

3.16 Regularly inform members of the network Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage about the progress of the current reflection of the World Heritage Committee, of its decisions and similarly of future decisions of the General Conference of UNESCO on Historic Urban Landscapes;

3.17 Disseminate widely the results of this Seminar in order to raise awareness of the academic community of Historic Urban Landscapes issues, principles and multidisciplinary research methodologies;

3.18 Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage should continue to highlight the issues of Historic Urban Landscapes at the local level through its bimonthly newsletter and website. It should build on the communication and network established on the occasion of this Seminar to develop further cooperation in disseminating and sharing knowledge.


Hanoi, 10 April 2009