Paraty hosts the 10th Brazil Historic Cities Meeting

The city of Paraty, located on the green coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, will host until next Saturday (5) the 10th Brazil Meeting of Historic, Tourism and World Heritage Cities of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO ). The event, open to the public, is organized by the Organization of World Heritage Cities of Brazil (OCBPM), in collaboration with the city of Paraty. Since 2014, the OCBPM has held the meeting annually, in cooperation with the municipalities that are part of the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM). The previous meeting was held in São Miguel das Missões (RS), in May of this year.

The project manager of the UNESCO Culture Sector Virginia Casado informed her Brazil agency that the idea is to articulate people, authorities and representatives of municipal administrations to strengthen assets related to world heritage. “Brazil currently has 23 sites recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List”. He clarified that as part of action to strengthen these material heritage sites, an agenda related to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, which includes expressions of traditional cultures and knowledge, is also being promoted. In the territory of Paraty, especially, there are important cultural expressions and knowledge of caiçaras, quilombolas and indigenous peoples.

“The material heritage recognition included these elements. Their presence as cultural expressions and holders of knowledge is acknowledged in this listing. Here there are indigenous lands, quilombola lands, several caiçara communities. In a way, this was incorporated into the recognition of Paraty as material historical heritage,” said Virginia Casado.

Amid issues related to historic sites, the region is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage. Together with the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iphan) and Paraty City Hall, Unesco has organized a screening of films on intangible heritage, which will be shown at the Cinema da Praça, in the historic center of the city, where there will also be rounds of talks, discussions and lectures that include heritage education, appreciation of traditional knowledge, interactions with the community and representatives of traditional populations. The idea is that “the city appropriates a little more, recognizes, appreciates and interacts with these holders and practitioners of these traditions,” argued the head of Unesco’s Culture Sector.


Virginia Casado believes that important proposals will emerge from these meetings because there is a discussion on strengthening management, urban policy instruments for this site, with an emphasis on structuring programs to encourage tourism on this site. According to the Unesco representative, the meeting proposes to build bridges and dialogue between these regions and also to come closer to regional and federal development programs, especially focused on tourism.

In Iphan’s assessment, the fact that Paraty is the first Mixed Space (natural and cultural) in Brazil gives a difference to the discussions in the city, in addition to the challenges posed for its management. The meeting is an opportunity to bring together experts in heritage, culture, biodiversity, tourism, public policy and governance in one place. In doing so, it creates a space for vital dialogues around the construction of ways and means of management for the conservation and sustainable development of sites recognized as World Heritage.

talking to Brazil agency, Iphan president Leandro Grass emphasized that intangible heritage is not directly on the agenda of the meeting. He recalled, however, that most of the world heritage cities also hold World Heritage, which refers to intangible assets. An example is São Luís (MA), with Tambores de Crioula and Bumba meu Boi. “There are no cities, but specific expressions which, sometimes, are found in more than one city.”

IPHAN intends to make an effort to further integrate policies aimed at the preservation of built assets, which are urban structures, in this case historical centers, buildings in particular, with cultural occupation and strengthening of popular culture. “You have the case of Olinda, which is a world heritage city and, at the same time, you have frevo there, in Pernambuco, as a heritage of humanity. It’s hard to think of keeping Olinda without promoting frevo. The same with other cities.” In the case of Paraty, he recognized that there are significant cultural expressions associated with African and indigenous nature. For this reason, he argued that it is not possible to think only about built conservation, but we must also think about immaterial projection as a strategy to occupy these historical centers.


Grass analyzed that the meeting in Paraty is another important moment for the exchange of experiences from the point of view of cultural heritage management. “In this context, we have municipalities with good practices, good experiences that have already been implemented. It is also time to share difficulties, to try to find common solutions for historic cities in particular.”

On Friday (4), from 8:30 am, Leandro Grass will participate in a round table where he will talk about the results of Iphan’s management in the first half of this year. One of the strong points, he said, was precisely the approach with the municipalities. The institute is currently designing World Heritage Management Committees, which are an example of social participation and consultation by public authority to guide heritage conservation. The Valongo Wharf Management Committee has already been built. Along with the town halls, other committees are also being considered. This is the case of the Pampulha Commission, with the city hall of Belo Horizonte, and Paisagens Cariocas, with the city hall of Rio de Janeiro.


During the meeting in Paraty, IPHAN will formalize a technical cooperation agreement with the Organization of World Heritage Cities of Brazil (OCBPM), with the support of the National Bank for Economic and Cultural Development (BNDES), for the implementation of World Heritage Interpretation Centers. “They are spaces for the community to interact with these cultural assets and understand their memory and history.” The marking of these areas will also be carried out. Once the agreement is signed, the tendency is for signs to be posted everywhere, Grass said.

Iphan’s participation in the meeting also includes a lecture, this Thursday (3), by the inspector of Iphan-BA Hermano Queiroz, on “The Participation of Communities / Owners in the Protection and Conservation Processes”. Yesterday (1st), the director of the Institute’s Department of Material Heritage and Inspection, Andrey Schlee, was part of the official opening panel of the event.

The Historic World Heritage Cities meetings are held annually by the OCBPM, since 2014, in collaboration with the municipalities that are part of the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM).

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