International Academy on UNESCO Designations

and Sustainable Development 

Enabling local solutions for global challenges


The International Academy on UNESCO Designations and Sustainable Development is a capacity building program ideated and implemented by the Fondazione Santagata for the Economics of Culture and UNESCO through the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (based in Venice, Italy), in cooperation with the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCOIULM Innovation Lab (Milan) and University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo.

The main objective of the Academy is to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, through the advancement of institutional and professional capacities of managing authorities, communities and relevant operators from  different UNESCO designations from both the Culture and Science sectors.

The Academy was launched in 2015 jointly with the exhibition "Behind Food Sustainability", as a pilot program on the double occasion of the United Nations Development Program "III International Forum on Local Economic Development" and of the EXPO Milan, in collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization. The Academy is mainly based in the city of Turin (Italy), which hosts three different UNESCO designations, related to the World Heritage List, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves


UNESCO designations are the most extended global networks of territories and communities committed to safeguarding their cultural and natural resources as drivers for local sustainable development.

Relevant actors are faced with the challenge to define long-term policies and short-term actions to effectively manage UNESCO designations, in order to fully harness their development potential while at the same time safeguarding their cultural and natural values. Such objective can only be achieved through an integrated and participatory approach, spanning several policy areas and ensuring the active engagement of all relevant stakeholders. A working paper on such topics, titled “UNESCO Clusters. Towards an integrated management perspective for multiple designated areas” was drafted within the works of the Academy.

Based on these principles, the first three workshops of the Academy took place in October 2015, December 2016 and October 2017 in Turin and Piedmont. 104 participants from 49 different UNESCO designated areas benefited from the Academy so far, now connected by a Community of good practices and knowledge exchange.

Click here to know more about the previous editions.


In accordance with the overall spirit of the Academy, the workshop’s programme is intended to contribute to advancing professional and institutional capacities of managing authorities, heritage bearers, and other relevant practitioners from UNESCO designations on the mentioned subjects, in order to increase the benefits for the local communities and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.​ Special attention will be paid to “multiple designated areas”, i.e. local territories with a concentration or proximity of more than one UNESCO designation, in order to analyze the potentialities, challenges and possible experiences related to the coordination and integration between different designations.

The workshop is primarily aimed at local government agencies and other relevant actors responsible for the management/safeguarding of World Heritage properties, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks, UNESCO Creative Cities, and elements inscribed in the UNESCO Lists and Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Other practitioners such as professionals in local development agencies, independent experts, scholars/researchers, staff from international organizations or NGOs, etc. can also apply.
In line with the Academy’s cross-disciplinary and dynamic approach, the workshop’s programme offers a combination of lectures, panel discussions, presentations by participants, and visits to case-studies and local communities.

Main Topics

The workshop will mainly focus on the role of food and food-related practices as driver for sustainable development in UNESCO Designations. In particular, the meeting will aim at sharing experiences, defining good practices, and discussing creative solutions on the integration of food-related practices - from production to consumption - in the management of UNESCO designated areas and the safeguarding of the related cultural and natural resources, in order to ensure an appropriate and equitable balance between conservation, sustainability and development.

Within this framework, specific sub topics addressed in the 2019 edition will be:


1. Integrated management models for cultural and natural resources, exploring emerging approaches, tools and practices to effectively engage multiple stakeholders and to better integrate food-related cultural and natural resources within local development programmes.

2. The role of creativity and innovation in community based development, to understand how the synergy between food-related heritage and cultural and creative industries can sustain inclusive social and economic growth in UNESCO designations.

3. Tools and practices to facilitate the management and development of food-related sustainable tourism at UNESCO designated areas, through fostering increased awareness, capacity and balanced participation of all stakeholders.


Scientific Committee

  • Jonathan Baker (UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe - Science Unit)

  • Martha Friel (IULM University)

  • Patrizia Lombardi (Politecnico di Torino)

  • Matteo Rosati (UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe - Culture Unit)

  • Carlo Salone (University of Turin)

  • Giovanna Segre (University of Turin)


Faculty and contributions

Monica Abbiati, Jonathan Baker, Enrico Bertacchini,  Carlotta Boffa, Paola Borrione, Otto Bugnano, Mauro Carbone, Roberta Cevasco, Paolo Corvo, Saverio Dani, Franco Fassio, Stefano Fenoglio, Laura Fornara, Martha Friel, Agostina Lavagnino, Frank Lohrberg, Cassiano Luminati, Filippo Margiaria, Angelo Miglietta, Stefano Parise, Alessio Re, Matteo Rosati, Donatella Saccone, Nuria Sanz Gallego, Giovanna Segre, Benedetta Ubertazzi, Gabriele Volpato.

Academy coordination

Alessio Re (Fondazione Santagata for the Economics of Culture)


​Ottavia Arenella, Paola Borrione, Erica Meneghin, Andrea Porta

With the support of

Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione Cariplo, Fondazione CRT,

Fondazione CRC.


World Heritage - Intangible Cultural Heritage - Creative Cities - Biosphere Reserves - Global Geoparks