The essay collection is available to download below.

The essays in this collection were originally commissioned by the British Council and Nordicity as independent thematic studies during the pilot phase of the Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth programme. They have since been updated by their authors and edited for the British Council by Inherit.  

Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth is a British Council action research programme which, since 2018, has been exploring ways in which local culture can improve the lives of individuals around the world. 

The essays are published as part of the British Council’s What Works Cultural Heritage Protection programme which is designed to support better outcomes for cultural heritage protection and local communities by bringing the best available evidence and learning to practitioners and other decision makers across the international heritage protection sector.

Together, the essays explore the role of cultural heritage in a sustainable future, and the principles and approaches that can guide action to realise the potential of heritage for human development. From different perspectives, and with reference to examples from around the world, the essays look at major themes including people-centred approaches to heritage, and transparent, accountable and participatory governance.


Cultural heritage and human development
Chris Dalglish

In his introduction to the collection, the series editor Chris Dalglish of Inherit places the essays in context by looking at the co-evolution of global cultural and sustainable development agendas in the 20th and 21st centuries. He discusses how cultural heritage relates to the purpose of development – understood in terms of human wellbeing and dignity – and at how heritage helps to create conditions in which human development can occur.


Cultural heritage for inclusive growth
John Samuel, Abraham George and Pallavi Rachel George 

Samuel, George and George of the Centre for Communication & Development Studies in India connect culture to ‘inclusive growth’ with reference to the human development approach which has become embedded in the UN sustainable development agenda. They analyse global policy frameworks and the work of global development actors and look at the implementation of inclusive growth at the national level, with examples from India, Columbia, Kenya and Vietnam.

Culture on purpose: sustainable development opportunities for culture
Ben Sandbrook 

Ben Sandbrook of World Pencil writes about Culture on Purpose, or the deliberate deployment and harnessing of culture in relation to major societal challenges. Sandbrook looks at the question ‘what are the challenges and opportunities in the world, and what help, if any, could culture provide in responding to those?’ and discusses the contribution of culture and heritage across the economy, education, health, wellbeing and other areas, with examples from India, Spain, the UK and the USA.

The role of cultural awareness and participation in sustainable development
Leandro Valiati  

Leandro Valiati is a lecturer in Arts & Cultural Management at the University of Manchester. In his essay, he discusses the relationship between participation in cultural activities and wellbeing, especially in disadvantaged areas. Valiati provides a theoretical argument for looking beyond contribution to GDP as a measure of the value of culture and for considering other indicators associated with human development. He grounds these ideas by exploring the case of cultural participation in Complex da Maré, a conglomeration of 16 favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

Principles and approaches 

People-centred approaches to cultural heritage and sustainable development
Anne Torreggiani and Sophia Woodley 

Anne Torreggiani and Sophia Woodley of the Audience Agency look at the philosophy and practice of People-centred Approaches to Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development. They review the use of people-centred approaches in a variety of contexts around the world. From there, they identify the defining characteristics of people-centred working and key lessons relating to good practice.  

Governance principles for inclusive heritage
James Doeser 

James Doeser - a freelance researcher, writer and consultant –uses the UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda (NUA) as a starting point for exploring how to embed cultural heritage in sustainable development and connects the NUA with the wider trends in global policy. He concludes that a practical synergy is possible between current discourses in the fields of heritage and development, and that greater, deeper and fairer community impacts can be achieved by adopting eight governance principles.

Narrating heritage: oral history and inclusive growth
Suzanne Joinson 

Suzanne Joinson’s essay Narrating Heritage looks at the relationship between oral history and inclusive growth. In her essay, she provides an overview of oral history as a discipline and practice, and presents examples from Malaysia, Turkey, the UK, the USA and Vietnam. She draws conclusions about the value of oral history for cultural relations and people-centred, community-led development.

Case studies 

Pedro Affonso Ivo Franco is a Brazilian researcher and consultant who is based in Germany and works across the cultural, creative and development sectors. He presents two case studies exploring the participatory governance of heritage and development from two different perspectives, one community led and the other institution led.

The Cambinda Estrela Cultural Centre and the preservation of Maracatu intangible heritage

In his first essay, Ivo Franco looks at Maracatu – a living carnival tradition with roots in the period of enslavement – and how this is being mobilised by the Cambinda Estrela Cultural Centre in Recife, Brazil, as part of their wider efforts to boost community self-esteem and help people to further their education, develop skills and networks, and enhance their economic prospects.

The Trafo programme and the distribution of power among its stakeholders

In his second essay, Ivo Franco analyses the TRAFO programme, an initiative of Kulturstiftung des Bundes in Germany, and how this has created conditions through which regional stakeholders can share power in the planning, implementation and monitoring of cultural projects.


Cultural heritage, self determination and community development
Chris Dalglish 

In conclusion to the essay collection, Chris Dalglish identifies the threads that run through the collection and distinguish it as a contribution to the wider body of knowledge and thought on cultural heritage and sustainable development. He presents key messages which emerge from the collection as a whole, and recommendations relating to cultural rights, self determination, community development, inclusion and exclusion, cultural relations, and the transfer of learning about ‘what works’ from one place to another.

Key messages from the essay collection 

Three overarching conclusions emerge from the collection as a whole:  

  • Cultural heritage is at the heart of human development.
    The fulfilment of people’s right to cultural life is an essential part of sustainable development because cultural life, in all its forms, is essential to human wellbeing and dignity.  
  • Cultural relations create conditions for human development.
    Cultural relations activities bring people together within the space of culture and civil society to build relationships based on the principle of mutuality.  For relationships which cross national and cultural boundaries to flourish and be equitable, a deep understanding of cultural differences is needed.
  • Alongside the evidence for what works, analysis of how it works is critical to the spread of good practice.
    While human development is context specific, analysis of how positive change has been achieved in particular circumstances can generate learning which is of wider relevance, when the focus is on identifying the underlying principles which characterise successful and ethical human development processes.   


Inherit — York Archaeology’s Institute for Heritage & Sustainable Human Development — supports community development through cultural heritage. Inherit helps people to safeguard their heritage and transmit it to future generations. They provide practical support to communities so that they can fulfil their cultural rights and use their heritage for the collective good. They carry out purposeful research and advocate evidence-based policy change which enables people to sustain their heritage and achieve their development goals. Inherit works with communities, non-profit organisations, public bodies and experts around Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia.

Watch the Perspectives on Cultural Heritage and Development event recording to learn more about the essays.