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  • His Highness the Aga Khan delivers his Keynote Address at the ICOMOS 50th Anniversary conference in London.
    AKDN / Anya Campbell
Aga Khan sees safeguarding of cultural heritage as a springboard for human development

London, United Kingdom, 22 October 2015 – His Highness the Aga Khan, today hailed restoration and preservation of cultural heritage as "a development resource of immense, potential value" in the overall improvement of the quality of human life.

In a keynote address to a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the Aga Khan joined Patron of ICOMOS UK, the Duke of Gloucester, and other high level speakers in emphasising the importance of cultural restoration in human development.

He praised ICOMOS' work, arguing that cultural projects are a powerful engine of human development rather than a diversion from development priorities. "This potential was often ignored," he said, "as culture was too easily labeled as a luxury amid pressing social and economic needs."

The Spiritual Leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) cited numerous examples of cultural projects undertaken by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, from Mali to Egypt to Afghanistan to India to Pakistan where cultural restoration work, accompanied by other development activities, brought jobs, literacy and economic prospects to impoverished and marginalised communities.

The Aga Khan emphasised the importance of an integrated, multi-sector approach to cultural heritage, the need to form private public partnerships and the necessity to obtain the support and engagement of local communities.

He noted that the success of cultural projects in the developed world and the developing world alike, "requires a variety of actors- animated by a robust spirit of cooperation - and an overriding 'ethic of partnership.' He cited the example of the work of the Chantilly Foundation in which valuable experience gathered in the developing world was successfully used to restore the cultural assets of a historic town in northern France to their former glory.

The Cultural Heritage Manifesto ICOMOS and the full programme for the conference, hosted by Arup, will be available at

For more information, please see:

For the Aga Khan Development Network
Sam Pickens
Aga Khan Development Network
P.O. Box 2369, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Telephone: +41 22 909 72 00
Facsimile: +41 22 909 72 91

Twitter: @icomosuk
Press images: will be available to download at

About the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Aga Khan Development Network

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture is recognised as one of the foremost organisations involved in matters of architecture, conservation and urban planning. It promotes planning, conservation and urban revitalisation in historic cities and undertakes the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures and public spaces in ways that can spur social, economic and cultural development. Individual project briefs go beyond mere technical restoration to address the questions of the social and environmental context, adaptive re-use, institutional sustainability and training. Its projects include major parks in Cairo and Delhi and urban revitalisation projects on sites as diverse as Zanzibar and Kabul. As a part of the Aga Khan Development Network, the Trust undertakes cultural projects within a broad continuum of development activities that usually encompasses economic, social and cultural initiatives.
For more information, please see:

About ICOMOS and its 50th Anniversary

ICOMOS ( works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places. Its work is based on the principles enshrined in the 1964 International Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites (the Venice Charter), and it was founded in 1965. ICOMOS is a network of experts that benefits from the interdisciplinary exchange of its members, among which are architects, historians, archaeologists, art historians, geographers, anthropologists, engineers and town planners. The members of ICOMOS contribute to improving the preservation of heritage, the standards and the techniques for each type of cultural heritage property: buildings, historic cities, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites. For more information, please see: