Rethinking Heritage for Sustainable Development

Sophia Labadi

ISBN: 9781800081925

Publication: June 06, 2022

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in 2015 have influenced the actions of international and intergovernmental organisations and governments around the world, and have dictated priorities for international aid spending. Culture, including heritage, is often presented as fundamental to addressing the SDGs: since 2010, the United Nations has adopted no fewer than five major policy recommendations that assert its importance as a driver and enabler of development. Yet, heritage is marginalized from the Sustainable Development Goals.

Rethinking Heritage for Sustainable Development constitutes a substantial and original assessment of whether and how heritage has contributed to three key dimensions of sustainable development (namely poverty reduction, gender equality and environmental sustainability) within the context of its marginalisation from the Sustainable Development Goals and from previous international development agendas.

Sophia Labadi adopts a novel, inclusive, large-scale and systematic approach, providing the first comprehensive history of the international approaches on culture (including heritage) for development, from 1970 to the present day. This book is also the first to assess the negative and positive impacts of all the international projects implemented in sub-Saharan Africa by a consortium of UN organisations that aimed to provide evidence for the contribution of heritage for development in time for the negotiation of the SDGs. The book’s conclusions provide recommendations for rethinking heritage for development, while reflecting on the major shortcomings of the selected projects.

Sophia Labadi is Professor of Heritage at the University of Kent, UK.

List of figures and tables
List of acronyms and initials

1 Introduction

2 International approaches from 1970 to the turn of the millennium

3 International approaches from 2000 onwards

4 Project design and management

5 Poverty reduction: local economic growth, tourism development and capacity building

6 Gender equality and the employment of women

7 Environmental sustainability

Conclusions and recommendations: Is another world possible?


‘A vital contribution to the literature on culture for development. This book combines a critical examination of the discursive claims concerning the contribution of heritage to sustainable development goals with evaluation of projects on the ground using multi-scalar and interdisciplinary methods. Labadi’s chapters address multidirectional power relations and issues of local resistance, the politicised uses of heritage by local stakeholders, which frustrate its instrumentalization as a tool of social transformation promoted by international actors, as well as critique of Western distinctions between culture and nature, which have led to environmental and social justice crises alike.’ – Paul Basu, University of Bonn

Format: Open Access PDF

13 colour illustrations

Copyright: © 2022

ISBN: 9781800081925

Publication: June 06, 2022

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