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Towards a wise management of natural and cultural heritage? A puzzling management of natural and cultural heritage: local spatial planning versus UNESCO WHL Management Plans in Sicily


This paper aims to investigate the relationship between the preservation of natural and cultural heritage and planning in UNESCO World Heritage List (WHL) sites, with special reference to the relation between Management Plans and other (local and regional) planning instruments and policies able to influence the promotion of sustainable and responsible development. This will be explored through a confrontation between two important tourist locations in Sicily: Agrigento (the Valley of the Temples) and the Aeolian Islands, which have both been recognized as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The analysis of these case studies will point out the challenge of integrating different management and planning regimes – which mainly refer to a performative model – in a (still) very conformative planning system. The paper will show how supranational policies often lose their efficacy in relation to regional and local planning systems, being in opposition to such systems. The selection of the two Sicilian case studies is particularly appropriate under this perspective, as they represent significant or even extreme examples of the gap between the supranational performative approach of the UNESCO WHL MP model and the conformative nature of the Sicilian planning system; this is due to the different nature and characteristics of the Sicilian planning law and regulations and the UNESCO WHL MP guidelines.