Objects, places and traditions are important because of the meanings and uses that people attach to them and the values they represent. In the spirit of the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (Faro convention), this initiative aims to promote a wider understanding of heritage as a common good by placing people and communities at the centre and involving them in decision-making.

Social innovation is being encouraged, as well as ways of increasing civic participation in managing cultural heritage.

For whom?

Heritage professionals, cultural and creative industries, experts and practitioners, associations and interest groups representative of non-professionals and local societies, and policymakers in local, regional and national authorities.


The “Heritage for all” initiative draws inspiration from the work of an EU expert group that worked on participative governance of cultural heritage. The group identified best practices from EU Member States and their findings were published in early 2018.

The initiative has 3 main components:

Component 1: Improving evidence/research and exchange of good practice

2 projects funded by Horizon 2020, the EU research programme, are contributing to develop, test and promote innovative models of participatory governance:

  • The Horizon 2020 social platform ‘REACH with an investment of €1.5 million to map research and practice in participatory preservation, reuse and management of cultural heritage. It will also evaluate bottlenecks and opportunities and will create European networks that help heritage communities to connect.
  • Another large Horizon 2020 research project, Culturelabs (worth €2.5 million), is assessing the current state of cultural institutions and focus on how to support them to become cultural service providers and hubs of social innovation, in cooperation with the Council of Europe.

The initiative is also identifying and showcasing successful cases of people-centred approaches to heritage in existing EU schemes, such as the European Capitals of Culture, the European Heritage Awards, the European Heritage Label and the European Heritage Days.


• 20 March 2018
European Commission High Level Conference on Innovation and Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium

• 15-16 November 2018
Fair of European Innovators in Cultural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium

Component 2: Testing and policy recommendations

In cooperation with the Council of Europe, the European Commission is currently implementing the pilot project STEPS, which is engaging communities in Lisbon and Rijeka in the heritage mapping of their neighbourhoods. The project is examining viable models for participative governance and will measure the impact of these approaches to cultural heritage as a resource for community development and cohesion. The project will present recommendations to national and regional policymakers at several conferences throughout 2018.

In addition, 4 other pilot projects of the social platform REACH target minority (Roma) heritage, institutional heritage, rural heritage and small towns’ heritage.


• 27 September 2018
Annual coordinators meeting of the Intercultural Cities in Rijeka, Croatia

Presentation by the mappers to 40 cities of the Intercultural Cities programme in the framework
• October 2018
Final event of the STEPS project with the citizens and the Rijeka city council, Croatia

• October 2018
Final event of the STEPS project with the citizens and the Lisbon city council, Portugal

• 13 November 2018
Final conference of the STEPS project with the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France

Component 3: Promoting the Council of Europe convention on the value of cultural heritage for society (Faro convention)

“The Faro Way”, a joint action of the Commission and the Council of Europe, was launched in June 2018 in order to increase the number of signatories and ratifications of the Faro Convention between the EU and Council of Europe Member States and promote its implementation. There will be a study on the lessons learnt with the promotion and implementation of Faro so far. Policy guidance will be issued, as well as documentary films. Up to 3 promotional seminars will be undertaken by the end of 2019.


• Second half of 2018
First promotional seminar with representatives from Ministries of signatory and non-signatory states


  • Within the European Commission, services dealing with culture, innovation and research
  • Council of Europe

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