Petra treasury 720
Al-Khazneh (The Treasury) - one of the most elaborate temples in Petra.

World heritage experts from the University of Birmingham’s Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage are gathering in Jordan to explore how UNESCO World Heritage Sites can help the world achieve the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

Hosted by the Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA), the global workshop will see heritage experts from the University of Birmingham join with local counterparts from the heritage sector in Jordan.

The UN’s 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, set specific targets to be achieved by 2030.

Experts will draw upon examples of best practice from Europe and Asia to help explore how UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Petra can contribute to meeting sustainability targets across a range of areas.

Project Principal Investigator, Professor Mike Robinson, from the University of Birmingham, said: “World Heritage Sites are potentially important instruments for wider socio-economic and environmental good. As well as being interesting places to visit, they have a key role to play in helping to make a real difference in people’s lives.

“We are exploring the practical ways in which these sites are helping to bridge the gap between UNESCO’s leadership on World Heritage and the broad agenda of the United Nations, which is now channelled into the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The three-day workshop, which opens on Sunday 24 June, is organised by experts at the University of Birmingham’s Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage.

It is part of a Global Challenges Research Networking Grant funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, which is examining the role World Heritage within the wider sustainable development agenda.

Dr Suleiman Farajat, Commissioner for Petra Archaeological Park and Tourism Affairs, said “We are very pleased at the PDTRA to work closely with the University of Birmingham on such an important issue. In fact, Petra as the main tourism and heritage site in Jordan plays an important role in the tourism industry, this means as decision makers, we need to find a balance between the needs of tourism and the protection of this site as a world heritage destination. Furthermore, we need to make sure that local groups in and around Petra profit from tourism and appreciate the place in the right way."

The event will involve all Jordan’s World Heritage Sites and bring in people with an interest in heritage from across the country. Participants will discuss what problems they face and how they can better use the World Heritage ‘brand’ to make a difference in the lives of the wider community.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • A World Heritage site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.
  • Petra is a historical and archaeological city in southern Jordan and believed to have been settled as early as 9,000 BC. It was possibly established as a major regional trading hub in the 4th century BC as the capital city of Nabataean Arabs. The city is famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and UNESCO has described it as ‘one of the most precious cultural properties of man's cultural heritage’.