Heritage and development

Regional Project on Cultural, Urban and Environmental Heritage in Latin America and the Caribbean (RLA)
UNDP - UNESCO (1976 - 1995)


During the years 1976 - 1995 Unesco in collaboration with UNDP and the World Heritage Center assisted Latin American governments in the establishment and execution of a REGIONAL Project of Cultural/Urban and Environmental Heritage. Projecto Regional de Patrimonio Cultural ,Urbano- Ambiental(RLA)

The Regional Project had its headquarters in Lima, Peru for almost 19 years.

It started with 6 participating countries in the Andean region, namely Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

By 1995 there were 26 participating countries in Latin America and the Caribbean which participated in the development and execution of this REGIONAL project:

- Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Surinam, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay, Venezuela

The immediate objectives of the project were the following:

a) Conservation of the urban heritage, architectural restoration , Monuments and Sites, Archaeological Compounds and Rehabilitation/ Renewal of Historic sites -monuments-, the urban environment, especially within HISTORICAL INNER CITIES

b) Conservation of movable cultural property across the region. This with special emphasis on Institution and Capacity Building, training of human resources, leading to the establishment of a network of dynamic communication channels among Conservation Centers and Museums.

c) The establishment of Conservation Centers in various countries dealing with the preservation and enhancement of movable patrimony such as textiles, stone, wall paintings, oil paintings, polychrome wood and wood carvings, among others.

d) Conservation and enhancement of Cultural Heritage by protecting and enhancing the bio-cultural diversity of different ecosystems. This was initiated originally in the Andean-Indian region gradually moving to the Caribbean (with CARICOM) and later on in the Maya region of Mexico and Central America in 1993-1995. (MUNDO MAYA)

The UNESCO/ UNDP Regional Project kept up with the evolution of the concept of cultural heritage going beyond culture. It stressed the development aspect of heritage

The interdisciplinary nature of cultural heritage work along with issues of social/human development was emphasized.

This gave sustainability to the conservation and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage.

With a contribution of UNDP of almost 7.5 million dollars over 19 years for this Regional Project from UNDP Regional funds, another 9 million dollars was provided again by UNDP at the country level, from UNDP country program allocations.

Further funding was raised from national and international foundations, ngo’s. The international banking community participated in pre-investment activities of feasibility and project preparation. The contributions to the Regional Project were of 1.2 million dollars during the 19 years.

Budget funds were used for Consultant services in the region in matters pertaining to project objectives, as well as training of professionals across the board in matters related to heritage.

It is to be noted that the 26 participating governments also made contributions in kind and at times in cash to the budget of the project over 19 years.
It is to be noted that UNESCO through the Associate Expert Scheme of countries such as Finland, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, France. These Governments paid all expenses of their Associate Experts assigned to the Regional Project for almost ten years...(1986-1995}. UN Volunteers were also recruited and placed in project activities.( Colombia -Spain)

TOTAL Budget funds were used for International and National Consultant services in the whole region in matters pertaining to project objectives, as well as training of professionals across the board, in matters related to heritage. Almost 4000 young professional trained.

Funding also facilitated study-fellowships and the frequent travels of the CTA (Sylvio Mutal for the duration of the project) for supervision and project implementation events, seminars, courses etc.. Funds were also provided for basic equipment for conservation centers.

It is to be noted that the 26 participating governments also made contributions in kind and at times in cash to the budget of the project over 19 years.

This financial performance was a record performance in funding and resource mobilization in the field of culture. For UNDP, in it’s world-technical cooperation schemes of billions of dollars it was for the first time that culture received such an attention in LAC.

This was so in view of sound management practices exercised by Field Project Personnel and particularly the CTA.

The regional project was decentralized from UNESCO Paris.

The periphery in the field became the Center of operation in the field, from the field. This was significant for effective and speedy implementation. This indeed was the innovation of Project Management in the field, from the field.


The Regional Project also undertook on behalf/for the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO a systematic monitoring exercise of World Heritage Sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. The monitoring was done in collaboration with state parties of WHC/members of the Regional Project.

The activities and results obtained by the Project in Latin America and the Caribbean have been reported to participating governments, UNDP and Unesco within the norms of technical cooperation procedures with partners.


In addition to numerous technical reports the Regional Project produced/published almost 100 publications. These publications reflected the activities of the REGIONAL Project as well as some national UNDP UNESCO projects, and UNESCO as such in some 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Chief Technical Advisor (CTA) and Coordinator of the Regional Project (Sylvio Mutal) introduced all these publications and in some cases were written by him with almost 300 consultants contracted by/for UNESCO UNDP from the region in LAC and other parts of the world (Europe, USA, Canada, Asia, Africa). Copyrights of these articles were secured by sheer contractual conditions of the consultants working in/for the Regional UNDP UNESCO project. These publications reflect the doings of UNDP/UNESCO in 26 countries in LAC.

The publications are in Spanish and in some cases with versions and/or resume’s in English, French and Portuguese. Some publications are exclusively in English e.g Jamaica (UNDP-UNESCO-IADB) and Museums in the Caribbean.

The subject matters are among others:

A1. Monuments and Urban Compounds/ Historic Cities/ Built Heritage
A2. International UNESCO Campaigns in LAC
A3. Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage (Movable)
A4. Museums
A5. Construction Materials - (Adobe, stone, etc..) Built Heritage
A6. Archaeology
A7. Traditional Technologies of patrimonial value
A8. Feasibility Studies for investment projects in Heritage (historic cities etc.)
A9. Manpower Needs: Human and Economic Resources in Cultural Heritage
A10. Music, Dance, Theater, Traditions
A11. Comics and Educational Material for children and adults alike
A12. Social Communication and Heritage
A13. Monitoring Reports
A14. Project Documents, Mid-Term Reviews, and External Evaluation Reports
A15. Sustainable Human Development in the MAYA Region and in LAC