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         14 February 2002

As the process of economic globalization continues to accelerate worldwide, there is growing concern about the preservation of unique "local" socio-cultural identities. An important aspect of preserving local individuality and character is the conservation and regeneration of historic cities.

Throughout East Asia, rapid and large-scale industrialization and urbanization are threatening many valuable world cultural heritage sites and traditional buildings. Cities endowed with unique cultural heritages are struggling to preserve their indigenous socio-economic structures, cultural assets, and natural environments, all of which constitute precious tourism resources.

The conservation of historic buildings and districts typically has been administrated by public agencies in both developed and developing countries, with varying degrees of success. But while city-level urban landscape conservation policies are now being positively implemented in many Western countries, socio-economic mechanisms to cope with this issue have not yet been established in East Asian countries. How to organize appropriate mechanisms for conserving and regenerating East Asia's precious cultural heritage properties has become a critical issue.

On 21 February, the United Nations University (UNU) will host a Regional Seminar on East Asian Historic Cities. This seminar, with the theme of "Recreation of Historic Landscape and Revitalization of Traditional Cities," is being co-organized by the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU/IAS), the Architectural Institute of Japan (AIJ), and the Ishikawa International Cooperation Research Centre (IICRC).

Experts from 12 East Asian countries will identify and discuss what kinds of measures and techniques would be effective in promoting the sustainable development and re-creation of traditional culture, with an emphasis on the conservation and regeneration of historic landscapes and cities. Presentations by representatives of the participating countries will be followed by four brief lectures and a panel discussion.

The Regional Seminar on East Asian Historic Cities will begin at 9:00 a.m. in the Elizabeth Rose Conference Hall of the UN House in Tokyo. Admission is free, and simultaneous interpretation will be provided. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend. A tentative programme is attached for your reference.

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Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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