Theses Master's

Local and International Dynamics in Historic Cities: Understanding the Influence of UNESCO World Heritage Designation on Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador

Araujo Unda, Diana Alejandra

After 36 years of designation, Quito and its historical center have become a sample of the positive and negative effects a World Heritage designation has on developing cities in South America. Demographics and socio-economic impacts have already been evaluated and documented providing data that indicates the direct results of public management and regulatory policies implemented after 1978. Demographics, employment, poverty, among others have been directly or indirectly affected by the local decisions based on the designation outlines. However, are those results a mere reflection of the local authorities actions and policies, or are UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention playing a major role in limiting or defying the development of the designated area? Moreover similarly to other growing cities, Quito is constantly undergoing major urban development. Infrastructure needed to satisfy the needs of 2,239,191 citizens has to be planned and executed on regular bases, thus a number of urban plans have been developed over the years to address these needs. In the case of the designated area such plans have always been studied under the scope of pro-conservation public policies as well as in compliance with reports made by UNESCO World Heritage and ICOMOS. As a result there has been several plans and projects that have gone through a complete overview after such reports were submitted. However, it is unclear to what degree does the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and Committee have a direct influence in decision-making in the city, and to what extent do reports influence local authorities and therefore the application of urban plans. Therefore, raising questions that look beyond the statistics. Does UNESCO have power over local authorities? Can a World Heritage designation be positive or negative to the development of the city? and can urban development and heritage preservation coexist in balance achieving socio-economic development?

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Avrami, Erica
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 20, 2015