Academy on UNESCO Designations
and Sustainable Development 

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

Enabling local solutions for global challenges


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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, October 2017, October 2018 and October 2019, in Turin, Piedmont Region and Lombardy Region. In the past 5 editions, the ACADEMY has reached approximately more than 130 participants from 50 different UNESCO designated areas, now connected by a Community of good practices and knowledge exchange.

Click here to know more about the previous editions.

In response to the disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, an in-depth survey was launched to assess the impact of previous years’ activities. The research findings were analyzed and presented in a technical report, which offers evidence of the Academy’s positive impact especially in terms of knowledge development, networking and international cooperation.

WORKSHOP 2022-23

The Edition 2022/2023 will be structured through an online warm up meeting and five preparatory talks, also online, to anticipate and introduce the topics of the three-day workshop to be held in Turin in March 2023. During the three-day onsite workshop, participants will have the opportunity to work on a chosen case study.

The Academy main goals are to provide an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge and territorial good practices at international level on the management of cultural and natural sites, and to contribute to advancing professional and institutional capacities of managing authorities and relevant operators form UNESCO designated sites, in order to increase the benefits for the local communities and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.


Main Topics

The 2022-23 program will tentatively focus on the following UNESCO Designations:

  • the World Heritage List;

  • the Intangible Cultural Heritage;

  • the Creative Cities Network;

  • the Biosphere Reserves included in the Man and Biosphere programme;

  • the Global Geoparks Network.

Special attention will paid to "multiple designated areas", i.e. local territories hosting more than one UNESCO Designation, in order to analyse the potentialities, challenges and possible experiences related to the coordination between different designations.


The workshop focuses mainly on the role of intangible and tangible cultural heritage as driver of sustainable development in UNESCO designations. In particular, the meeting aims to share experiences, define good practices and discuss creative solutions in order to ensure an appropriate and equitable balance between conservation, sustainability and development by implementing a holistic approach to UNESCO programmes and designations.


Phase 1: Phase one ‘Warm up!’ is necessary to create a common ground, introduce the participants and create a common working context.

Phase 2: Phase two includes the implementation of the ‘5 Talks’ whose objective is to identify good practices and promote their transfer to other designation contexts. The good practices belonging to a specific UNESCO designation will be promoted to those working in any other designation, allowing the cross-fertilization of ideas and visions. Each talk will have its own introduction, a one-hour debate with three speakers (15 minutes each) and then an hour will be given to promote a discussion between participants. Participants will then have the opportunity to talk about their experiences during the question time. The speakers of the talks will be scholars, practitioners and decision makers in order to give a holistic
view of the designations and the projects that spring from them.

Phase 3: The working session ‘Onsite Workshop’ will offer the opportunity to work on a study case and will enable participants to acquire useful practical tools, exchange ideas and increase the possibility of creating new cultural cooperation networks.

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Associated partners

In cooperation with

  • Circolo del Design di Torino

  • Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto

  • Fondazione per l’Ambiente

  • GAI

  • Municipality of Genoa

  • Municipality of Ivrea 

  • Musei Reali di Torino

  • Print Club

  • Slow Food Travel 

  • Toolbox coworking

  • Ageendawifi

Fondazione Santagata for the Economics of Culture is organizer and scientific manager of two International Masters dedicated to the capacity-building of professionals working in the cultural heritage sector for the development of cultural related projects and for the protection and preservation of culture in post-disaster and emergency contexts: the Master in Management and Cultural Projects for Development and the Master in Cultural Property Protection in Crisis Response.

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.