WILLEMSTAD – In a strongly-worded letter to Minister Charles Cooper of Traffic, Transportation, and Spatial Planning, the Monuments Council Curaçao expressed its concerns about the minister’s recent statements questioning the added value of Willemstad as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
During the recent Invest in Willemstad summit, Minister Cooper raised a question that sparked controversy: What is the added value of Willemstad being on the UNESCO World Heritage list?
This caused surprise, especially considering that the minister is responsible for the preservation of Curaçao’s built heritage. The Monuments Council responded with a detailed letter outlining the significant benefits of this status.
Areas of Concern
Willemstad was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1997, a prestigious recognition that distinguishes the city for its Outstanding Universal Value.
This not only brings greater awareness of its heritage but also provides additional protection, social and economic development opportunities, and preservation of cultural heritage for future generations.
It also promotes tourism, as many travelers specifically seek destinations with historical and cultural value, according to the Monuments Council.
The letter criticizes the underutilization of this status in Curaçao’s marketing and emphasizes that parts of historic Willemstad are lagging in development.
Concerns also include the lack of coherent city management, a requirement of UNESCO, and the absence of an updated heritage ordinance.
Specific attention is directed towards the Waterfort Plaza Masterplan, on which UNESCO has ruled as not compliant with Curaçao’s own legislation. The Monuments Council advises the government to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to reduce the project’s scope, not only to comply with UNESCO’s wishes but also for the sustainable preservation of its own heritage.
The letter concludes with a call to better leverage the benefits of Willemstad’s world heritage status in terms of business activities, housing, employment, and prosperity development. The Monuments Council emphasizes that there is much work to be done and offers to contribute to these efforts.
Chairman Michael A. Newton’s letter underscores the importance of balancing the value of cultural heritage with its financial-economic value, a point also emphasized by young Curaçaoan restoration architect, Valery Eshuis, during the summit. This equilibrium is crucial for the future of Willemstad and the preservation of its unique character, according to the council.
Bron: Curacao Chronicle