Participatory Practices In Natural And Cultural Heritage

Andrea A. Travaglia


Heritage planning in Europe, through the Valletta and Florence Conventions, constitutes
a framework for cooperation whereby the public is encouraged to take an active part – an
ongoing cultural practice that includes society. Within this paper, I focus on participatory
practice as a reflective process of problem-solving in heritage via individuals working
together as a community of practice and crowd-based approaches. The recent development of the
Environment and Planning Act (Omgevingswet) in the Netherlands, which will legally frame
the way municipalities and citizens interact with their environment, is used as a case study to
show context-dependent risks associated with the democratic dialogue in heritage planning.
Participatory planning is impossible without democratic participation, and there is a risk that
the Omgevingswet will merely pay lip service to participatory practice. I analyse engagement
with technology and the new law that is not yet operational – with its influence on citizen
participation yet to form – that could either have negative consequences or potentially
enhance the participatory governance process in the Dutch heritage sector. In conclusion,
the medium (Omgevingswet online platform) is the message (integration of sustainable Dutch
landscapes in national and regional environmental visions) for online participatory practice
in a networked information economy.

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