Unveiling forms of participation in the governance of UNESCO world heritage sites





World Heritage, participatory governance, decision-making, Palermo


This paper focuses on the issues of governance and participation of World Heritage sites. It inquiries how decision-making structures to locally managed World Heritage sites may encompass public participation. Through an in-depth qualitative approach, the paper analyses the World Heritage Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale serial site (Italy). By examining the participatory dynamics that occurred during the creation and development of the selected World Heritage serial site, this paper reveals three coexisting forms of participation in WHsite decisions: inter-institutional agreement, social aggregation, and multi-actor collaboration. The main findings suggest that although formal decision-making arenas may be participative weakly, the unpacking of participatory practices in urban spaces uncovers a vibrant scene, as it emerges from the Cassaro Alto and Danisinni districts in the city of Palermo.


Download data is not yet available.


ANDALORO, M., ANGELINI, A., CARTA, M., LINO, B., LONGO, R., RICCIO, F. and SCIMEMI, L. (2018), Palermo Arabo-Normanna e le Cattedrali di Cefalù e Monreale. Piano di Gestione per l’iscrizione nella World Heritage List del sito seriale, Palermo: Officine Grafiche.
Google Scholar

ARNSTEIN, S. R. (1969), ‘A Ladder of Citizen Participation’, Journal of The American Institute of Planners, 35, pp. 37–41. https://doi.org/10.1080/01944366908977225
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01944366908977225

BEEKSMA, A. and DE CESARI, C. (2019), ‘Participatory heritage in a gentrifying neighbourhood: Amsterdam’s Van Eesteren Museum as affective space of negotiations’, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 25 (9), pp. 974–991. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1509230
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1509230

BEVIR, M. (2007), Encyclopedia of Governance, Vol. 1, SAGE Publications, Inc. BOGDANDY, A., WOLFRUM, R., BERNSTORFF, J., DANN, P. and GOLDMANN, M. (eds.). (2010), The exercise of public authority by international institutions: advancing international institutional law, 210, Springer Science and Business Media.
Google Scholar

CoE (2005), Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society.
Google Scholar

COOMBE, R. J. and WEISS, L. M. (2015), ‘Neoliberalism, Heritage Regimes, and Cultural Rights’, SSRN Electronic Journal, pp. 43–69. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2644495
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2644495

CORNWALL, A. (2002), ‘Making spaces, changing places: situating participation in development’, Institute of development studies. Working papers, 170.
Google Scholar

CORNWALL, A. (2008), ‘Unpacking “Participation”: models, meanings and practices’, Community Development Journal, 43 (3), pp. 269–283. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsn010
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsn010

CRESWELL, J. W. (2009), Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, Los Angeles: SAGE.
Google Scholar

DORMAELS, M. (2016), ‘Participatory management of an urban world heritage site’, Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, 6 (1), pp. 14–33. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-11-2014-0038
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-11-2014-0038

ERCOLE, E. (2017), ‘Governance, Partecipazione e Inclusione nei piani di gestione dei siti della World Heritage List dell’UNESCO’, Annali del Turismo, VI, pp. 177–194.
Google Scholar

ERNST and YOUNG (2006), Progetto di definizione di un modello per la realizzazione dei Piani di Gestione dei siti UNESCO. https://www.yumpu.com/it/document/read/15103945/modello-per-la-realizzazione-dei-piani-di-gestione-ufficio [accessed on: 07.05.2022].
Google Scholar

FERRUCCI, S. (2012), UNESCO’s World Heritage regime and its international influence, Hamburg: Tredition.
Google Scholar

FISCHER, F. (2006), ‘Participatory Governance as Deliberative Empowerment’, The American Review of Public Administration, 36 (1), pp. 19–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074005282582
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074005282582

FISHER, F. (2010), ‘Participatory Governance’, Jerusalem Papers in Regulation & Governance, 24, pp. 1–19.
Google Scholar

FISCHER, F. (2012), ‘Participatory Governance: From Theory To Practice’, [in:] LEVI-FAUR, D. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance, pp. 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199560530.001.0001
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199560530.001.0001

FUNG, A. (2006), ‘Varieties of Participation in Complex Governance’, Public Administration Review, 66 (s1), pp. 66–75. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2006.00667.x
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2006.00667.x

FUNG, A. and WRIGHT, E. O. (2001), ‘Deepening Democracy: Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance’, Politics & Society, 29 (1), pp. 5–41. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032329201029001002
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0032329201029001002

GIUBILARO, C. and LOTTA, F. (2018), ‘Quartiere in transizione. Il caso di Danisinni (Palermo) tra marginalità socio-spaziale e rigenerazione di comunità’, Atti della XXI Conferenza Nazionale SIU, pp. 481–487, Florence, 6–8 June 2018.
Google Scholar

GUSTAFSON, P. and HERTTING, N. (2017), ‘Understanding Participatory Governance: An Analysis of Participants’ Motives for Participation’, American Review of Public Administration, 47 (5), pp. 538–549. https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074015626298
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074015626298

HASPEL, J. (2013), ‘Transnational Serial Nominations for the UNESCO World Heritage List’, ICOMOS–Hefte des Deutschen Nationalkomitees, 58, pp. 21–23.
Google Scholar

HEINELT, H. (2010), Governing Modern Societies. Governing Modern Societies: Towards Participatory Governance, London: Routledge.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203856680

LABADI, S. (2007), ‘Representations of the nation and cultural diversity in discourses on World Heritage’, Journal of Social Archaeology, 7 (2), pp. 147–170. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469605307077466
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1469605307077466

LEFEBVRE, H. (1991), The production of space, Oxford: Blackwell.
Google Scholar

LEVY, M. A., YOUNG, O. R. and ZÜRN, M. (1995), ‘The Study of International Regimes’, European Journal of International Relations, 1 (3), pp. 267–330. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066195001003001
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066195001003001

LI, J., KRISHNAMURTHY, S., PEREIRA RODERS, A. and van WESEMAL, P. (2020), ‘State-ofthe-practice: Assessing community participation within Chinese cultural World Heritage properties’, Habitat International, 96, 102107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2019.102107
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2019.102107

MESKELL, L. (2013), ‘UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention at 40’, Current Anthropology, 54 (4), pp. 483–494. https://doi.org/10.1086/671136
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/671136

MILLAR, S. (2006), ‘Stakeholders and community participation’. [in:] LEASK, A. and FYALL, A., Managing World Heritage Sites (1st ed.), pp. 63–80, London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780080461755
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780080461755-15

PETERS, B. G. and PIERRE, J. (1998), ‘Governance Without Government? Rethinking Public Administration’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 8 (2), pp. 223–243. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jpart.a024379
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jpart.a024379

PETTENATI, G. (2019), I paesaggi culturali Unesco in Italia, Milano: Franco Angeli.
Google Scholar

ROSETTI, I., CABRAL, C. B., RODERS, A. P., JACOBS, M. and ALBUQUERQUE, R. (2022), ‘Heritage and Sustainability: Regulating Participation’, Sustainability, 14 (3), p. 1674. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031674
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031674

SCHMITT, T. (2015), ‘UNESCO as a Red Cross or as a notary of World Heritage? Structures, scale-related interactions and efficacy of UNESCO’s World Heritage regime’, MMG Working Papers Series, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, 40, pp. 1–43. ISBN: ISSN 2192-2357
Google Scholar

STOKKE, O. S. (1997), ‘Regimes as Governance Systems’, [in:] YOUNG, O. R. (ed.), Global Governance Drawing Insights from Environmental Experience, pp. 27–65, Cambridge: The Mitt Press.
Google Scholar

TURNHOUT, E., Van BOMMEL, S. and AARTS, N. (2010), ‘How Participation Creates Citizens: Participatory Governance as Performative Practice’, Ecology and Society, 15 (4), p. 26.
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-03701-150426

UNSECO (1972), Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. https://whc.unesco.org/en/conventiontext/ [accessed on: 08.07.2022].
Google Scholar

UNESCO (2015), Policy for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention. https://whc.unesco.org/document/187765 [accessed on: 08.05.2022].
Google Scholar

UNESCO (2019), Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention. https://whc.unesco.org/en/guidelines/ [accessed on: 08.05.2022].
Google Scholar

WANG, J. (2019), ‘Relational heritage sovereignty: authorization, territorialization and the making of the Silk Roads’, Territory, Politics, Governance, 7 (2), pp. 200–216. https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2017.1323004
Google Scholar DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2017.1323004

YIN, R. K. (2003), Case study research: Design and methods, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication.
Google Scholar




How to Cite

Taormina, F., & Bonini Baraldi , S. (2022). Unveiling forms of participation in the governance of UNESCO world heritage sites. European Spatial Research and Policy, 29(2), 79–91. https://doi.org/10.18778/1231-1952.29.2.05




Funding data

  • Erasmus+
    Grant numbers 2019-1-PL01-KA203-064946