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An international forum focusing on the need to safeguard the fabric of Rangoon’s heritage will begin in the city this week. The ‘forum on sustainable development’ event is organised by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and Yangon Heritage Trust (YHT) and will run from 15-17 January.
At a time when Burma is undergoing social and economic development at a rapid pace, Rangoon still contains many of its buildings of historical and cultural interest. The city was included in the 2014 World Monuments Watch list.
Bonnie Burnham, WMF president, said that, “Yangon [Rangoon] is one of the few historic cities in Asia with much of its historic character still in place. The most important priority for safeguarding the historic centre of Yangon is to make clear its relevance as an economic and development asset and to bring this message to the leaders of the country.”
In a statement released on Monday, the partnership identified challenges to architectural protection in Burma as the weak regulatory framework, limited professional planning expertise, and mounting pressures for development, all of which leave Rangoon vulnerable to hasty decision making.
The forum will assist Burma in the task of heritage preservation as it aims to “raise practical suggestions, based on Myanmar [Burma] realities, including the pressing legal, financial, and other challenges facing conservation and urban development in Yangon. The Yangon government has made huge progress in urban conservation, far more than many Asian cities at similar periods in their development; I hope this forum will encourage them further and provide real solutions to the thorny issues they face on a daily basis,” says the chairman of YHT, Dr. Thant Myint-U.
Attendees will include representatives from national and municipal government agencies, private groups, civil society organisations and NGOs, as well as international institutions such as the European Union, Asian Development Bank, World Bank and Association of South East Asian Nations, as well as members of the media.