NIKUTema43Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Report: Harnessing the hidden potential of cities

Now available: The report from the conference "Can Cultural Heritage Investments Support Inclusive Urban Development?" hosted by The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research in cooperation with the World Bank in Oslo in April, 2012.

The workshop as a platform for a fruitful encounter between specialists
The participants in the Oslo workshop represent a broad spectrum of actors in the area of development and the whole event became an exercise in the exchange of agendas, work tools, strategic ideas and experiences. For instance, one of the participants from Bangladesh, Mr Taimur Islam from the Urban Study Group in Dhaka and his team, spend most of their time in court protecting the historic buildings in the city centre of Old Dhaka from demolition – building by building. With the same ambition in sight, but with state support, a city plan and a development trust as managing partner, Mr Masood Khan from the USA and the rest of his team at the Agha Khan Trust has completed a pilot project for the protection, refurbishment and development of the old historic city centre of Kabul. In other words, the interesting mix of participants working towards the same ambition but through different organisational forms with different means and work methods, variety in the degree of public vs. private partnerships, and with different abilities to influence policy making and financial investment, balanced the discussions and made it possible to draw a somewhat holistic picture of the field of action.

Findings and recommendations
The agenda for the workshop were: How can cultural heritage investment support inclusive urban development that benefits lower income residents? The question was given many answers. For example, reflecting on the
added values of a pilot programme in the walled city centre of Lahore, Mr Masood Khan emphasised in the panel discussion session that: «In the project they hired local youths to work on the sites. When they were done; the youths had not only refurbished the buildings but in the process they had also had an extraordinary experience of taking ownership of hope. They had used their own hands for making the world better».

The recommendations made for future inner-city investment projects, which includes investment in cultural heritage assets, support for lower-income residents and benefits for lower-income residents can be found in the report.

Read the report Harnessing the hidden potential of cities

The report is also available in print: