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Cultural Heritage Restoration and Community Benefits

Last night Libby Owen Edmunds, an alumni of the International Centre for Responsible Tourism, spoke about the work of the Aga Khan’s development agencies in Baltistan in northern Pakistan. Baltistan borders the Gilgit Agency in the west, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region (China) in the north, Ladakh in the east, and the Kashmir Valley in the south, a cross roads on the silk route the Mir of Hunza, from his Fort at Baltit,  had a trade agreement with the Emperor of China. The Aga Khan has been assisting with the restoration of the cultural monuments of this remote community, with its unique culture,  for more than twenty years.

Libby ha been assisting the Aga Khan Development Network in securing a viable use for the restored Shigar Fort and Khaplu Palace. The cultural heritage restorations have increase local pride in their heritage and brought economic and community regeneration. Traditional construction skills, acquired  through the restoration projects, have been used to improve living conditions in the surrounding communities and tourism has brought additional livelihood opportunities for local people.

Libby of Adlib consulting, spoke to an audience of about 25, fellow alumni and other professionals from tourism, architecture and conservation. She ended her fascinating presentation by articulating, based on her experience of implementing initiatives,  the  necessary and sufficient conditions for success. Libby identified six.

  1. Longevity of commitment
  2. Cultural sensitivity
  3. Adaptive reuse and rehabilitation (tourism is an additional livelihood for the community, not an alternative)
  4. Community participation (genuine and with consequent empowerment for all)
  5. An integrated approach to local economic development
  6. Government needs to be supportive.

Libby Owen Edmunds Adlib consulting

 

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