GEORGE TOWN, March 1 — Penang’s management of the World Heritage Site of George Town was once again praised as one of the shining examples in heritage conservation.

Unesco Office in Jakarta’s section chief and programme specialist for culture, Moe Chiba, said George Town is among those regularly used as models for the proper management of heritage sites.

“From the point of view of Unesco, there are several sites that shine and this is often due to strong political leadership in managing the sites well,” she said during a press conference after the official opening of the We Are Site Managers International Symposium.

She said the role of the site managers is also important.


“There needs to be a strong team to be able to tackle all the issues and challenges of managing the site one by one, backed by strong leadership, for a heritage site to be well managed,” she said.

She said there may be activists raising concerns on one demolished heritage building or that the building was painted the wrong way but this does not mean the site managers are not doing their jobs.

“Having a strong team as the site manager is a sign that the world heritage site is under good hands, so do not judge a site manager due to one demolished building or wrongly painted building,” she said.


A total 160 leading world heritage site managers and heritage professionals from 37 countries are gathered in Penang for the inaugural international symposium that kicks off today.

The five-day symposium will serve as a platform for site managers from various heritage sites to discuss, debate, share ideas and explore opportunities in the context of the convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural heritage.

The symposium will feature 48 speakers and 15 moderators in 20 sessions on topics such as challenges in managing a heritage site, conservation efforts, resources for site managers and capacity building.

A call to action by the site managers, called the George Town Declaration, will also be discussed and launched at the end of the symposium.

The George Town Declaration is aimed at seeking global recognition on the importance of their work in managing heritage sites.

Norway’s world heritage coordinator Hege Agathe Bakke-Alisøy said George Town is a fitting site for the George Town Declaration to be launched.

She said the declaration will pinpoint the importance of the roles of site managers in ensuring the protection and proper management of world heritage sites.

She said it will raise the voices of site managers globally.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, in his opening speech, said George Town will serve as the epicentre for the establishment of the World Heritage Site Managers’ Network.

He said it will foster a global collection action for a transparent, inclusive and updated list of site managers of world heritage properties.

George Town World Heritage Incorporated (GTWHI) general manager Ang Ming Chee said site managers from 32 world heritage properties and two tentative lists are present at the symposium.

She said the symposium will strengthen partnerships among world heritage site managers through the establishment of the World Heritage Site Managers Network.

She also said the George Town Declaration is important as it outlines the shared commitments and goals of site managers worldwide.