Posted: March 4, 2011 in Uncategorized



Sustainable development and cultural heritage management in Botswana: towards sustainable communities

Conceptual Analysis
Way Forward

The main aim of this article was to highlight that the principles of sustainable development can be imported into cultural heritage resource management, and used to secure a better use and understanding of the heritage in the forms of environment, tangible and intangible heritage (Figure1). In particular it focuses on the sustainability principle of involvement of local people (Table

1) in developing countries such as Botswana. Research topics linking sustainable development programmes and cultural resource management are limited compared with similar research relating to natural resource management (cf. Lang, 1995; Maggio, unpublished Ph.D. thesis; Li, 2004). This loophole emanates from a perception of sustainability as applicable only to the ‘environment’ in a conventional context that excludes histories of human–environment interactions constituted in archaeological deposits, monuments and sites, as well as broader cultural landscapes. The sustainable development (WCED, 1987) concept is made up of various principles (Keitumetse, unpublished Ph.D. thesis; Fisher et al., 2006), some of which are of more benefit to management of resources of a cultural nature. Of the 27 principles of the Rio Declaration (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992/Conf. 151/26 Vol I [Robinson, 1993]), those principles that relate to community participation are more applicable to the broader concept of cultural heritage resource management because communities are carriers, custodians and direct users of cultural heritage resources. As already observed, in contrast to the North, ‘… for government and industry in the South, the focus is very much on “meeting the needs and aspirations of the present” and it might be expected that “those of the future” would play a minor part’ (Short, 2008, p. 56), mainly due to poverty related pressures. Community participation enables incorporation of histories of human–environment interactions as well as indigenous ecological knowledge, in the process prompting communities to consider present economic needs as well as needs of the future generation. It is therefore pertinent that new fields of resource management invest first in community perspectives as a strategy towards achieving sustainability. The sustainable development framework (Table1 and Table5) is already built into resource management policy of most African governments, where its implementation in cultural heritage resource management can encompass archaeological, historic, indigenous ecological knowledge and traditional values as significant elements of environmental resource management programmes as illustrated in Figure1 above.

Table 5. Sustainable development strategic imperatives as contained in WCED, 1987, p. 49, and their fundamental potential relevance to cultural heritage management

Sustainable development strategic imperatives

Relevance/lessons for cultural resource management

Reviving economic growth1.

enhancing cultural value (Carver, 1996) through social development

2. Changing the quality of growth by meeting human needs by increasing productive potential and ensuring equitable opportunities for all

sustainable cultural tourism incorporating aspects of intangible (community based) and the tangible (physical heritage and landscapes)

Ensuring a sustainable level of population3.

monitoring access to monuments; establishing and abiding by carrying capacity levels as well as establishing limits of acceptable change (LAC) for cultural resource utilization

Conserving and enhancing the resource base4.

research that covers all values attached to a heritage (Keitumetse, unpublished Ph.D. thesis).

Reorienting technology and managing risk5.

virtual heritage interpretation and presentation and high-tech museums

Merging environment and economics in decision making6.

merging other uses of the historic environment with sustainable practices of monument tourism.

Participation of all concerned citizens at the national level7.

active and meaningful local community involvement in natural resource management through implementation of cultural heritage perspectives

Strengthening of SD and important linkages between poverty, the environment, and the use of natural resources.8.

recognize community-based cultural heritage management approaches as of strategic importance to poverty alleviation

The emergence of partnerships9.

SD in the broader heritage management perspective that includes human–environment interactions


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