Asian cities need appropriate planning and management tools to promote sustainability and livability before challenges related to a rapid and often sporadic urbanisation bring them to a no return point. These challenges are particularly visible in heritage cities. Unique cultural assets these cities possess are rapidly disappearing instead of generating valuable socio-economic and environmental benefits. Inner historical areas of heritage cities are either under a pressure of chaotic construction and expansion, which rarely respects their historic and socio-cultural dynamics and significance, or hardly benefit from improved infrastructure services and deteriorate rapidly. As a result, residents of historical cores are condemned to the lowest living standards while the entire city is losing on opportunities that an activated heritage core could generate.
The international community took a number of commitments to bring cultures and heritage at the core of the urban development, which reflected in the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda, the UNESCO ’s Global Report on Culture and Sustainable Urban Development and the UCLG’s Agenda 21 for Culture. While progress has been made since, a much bigger effort is required to transform the game. The session will share good practices from the region to promote an integrated rather than a sectoral approach and demonstrate how heritage can be better integrated into a broader city-wide socio-economic and physical development. The objective is to promote a people-centric, area-based approach to heritage conservation and city development – an inclusive urban renewal – and to address today’s infrastructure services needs while enhancing sustainability, resilience and livability.