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27 October 2008 / EN

The Importance of Cultural and Natural Heritage for Sustainable Regional Development

Katerini Declaration

The EPP Group in the CoR

      On a European Identity

  1. draws attention to the fact that cultural and natural heritage is a key element of a region or a city’s identity, providing a foundation for dynamic knowledge-based societies and contributing to social and economic cohesion. When combined with other natural and local landmarks and cultural traditions – with a special regard for agropastoralism – the capacity to increase the attractiveness of these areas and to generate sustainable local economic development is substantially improved;
  2. believes that cultural tourism can raise awareness and understanding of the different cultures of Europe, thus contributing to European integration, while the European integration is based on the diversity of cultures and so the European Union has to invest in it;
  3. reiterates its support for the Conventions and Agreements initiated by international organisations throughout the years on the protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage;
  4. supports the European cultural heritage outside EU borders, which will ensure the preservation and benchmarking of EU values at global level;

    On subsidiarity and democracy
  5. recalls that by taking into account the principle of subsidiarity, local and regional authorities are best placed to preserve heritage and calls for a strengthening of available support, notably through the EU Structural Funds;
  6. underlines the importance that education plays at all levels with regards to nature and the significance of cultural heritage in order to improve awareness from one generation to the next because a better knowledge of our history helps to better understand the society and its roots, in particular via teaching ancient languages;
  7. underlines the importance for local and regional authorities to invest in the education and training of heritage experts, managers of heritage sites, professionals in nature conservation and tourism professionals;
  8. calls on national governments and the EU to support the implementation of initiatives from local and regional authorities to develop partnerships and twinning arrangements, in order to exchange knowledge and experiences in the field of heritage management and preservation;
  9. stresses the importance of networking, and bringing together the tourism and cultural industry professionals working in different regions of Europe to exchange experience and information on best practice;

    On Sustainable Development
  10. believes that sustainable tourism plays a major role in the preservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage in many fields, including arts and crafts, local gastronomy, and the preservation of biodiversity, and therefore must be further developed and encouraged;
  11. supports the efficient planning of a sustainable cultural tourism whilst taking into account the economic, social and environmental effects;
  12. calls for a responsible use of transport to sites of cultural importance, bearing in mind that carbon emissions contribute to pollution and climate change, thus creating a negative impact on the historic environment;

    On growth and jobs
  13. cultural tourism represents a catalyst for encouraging entrepreneurship in a variety of business sectors, which can generate employment opportunities and contribute to the economic development of a region, ensuring long term competitiveness, in line with the goals of the Lisbon agenda for growth and jobs and the Gothenburg goals of developing competitiveness, employment and sustainable development;
  14. welcomes the Communication by the European Commission on the agenda for a sustainable and competitive European tourism and announces its intention to further contribute to this initiative by adding a local and regional dimension in order to increase the positive contribution of tourism business and consumption activity to local sustainable development.