Europa Nostra contributes to the Davos Baukultur Alliance annual meeting at the World Economic Forum, Geneva

On 18-19 June 2024, one hundred delegates from around the world gathered in Geneva at the World Economic Forum to work through an agenda of challenges in the implementation of the Davos principles of ‘High-quality Baukultur’. The Davos Baukultur Alliance was launched in 2023 at the Conference of European Ministers of Culture in Davos; the gathering in Geneva was the second meeting of Alliance representatives from all three sectors, which now has 67 member organisations. At this year’s Alliance meeting, Europa Nostra was re-elected as a Member of the Steering Committee of the Alliance for the next 4 years, as a representative of civil society organisations working in the field of cultural heritage. Europa Nostra was represented at the meeting in Geneva by its Secretary General, Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, and Board Member Graham Bell. The Secretariat of the Davos Alliance is provided by the World Economic Forum.

Forum in session: Sense of Place, Davos Baukultur Alliance Meeting 2024 in Geneva. © World Economic Forum/Marc Bader


‘Baukultur’ promotes a holistic approach to the living environment, from existing buildings to contemporary design, handcrafts to large-scale infrastructure, planning to construction, use and reuse/recycling. The Davos Baukultur Alliance was created to advocate high quality across these disciplines, based on the Davos Declaration 2018.

This is important territory for Europa Nostra. Cultural heritage is a familiar ground for issues of protection and management to preserve values and traditions. ‘Baukultur’ expands our horizons and vocabulary in which cultural heritage should influence sustainable, economic, especially urban development, where pressure for growth is unprecedented. Thinking and acting transversally are critical: eight defining criteria are explored through four working groups, in each of which Europa Nostra makes a distinctive contribution: Affordability & Social Value Creation; Resilience & Climate Adaptation; Sustainability & Circularity; and Rebuilding Ukraine.

Indy Johar, Co-Founder, Dark Matter Labs, making the keynote at the Davos Baukultur Alliance Meeting 2024 in Geneva. © World Economic Forum/Marc Bader


The keynote by Indy Johar, Co-Founder of Dark Matter Labs from the United Kingdom, was exceptional – awesome and inspiring, in which headline indices of the climate imperative are woefully behind schedule; we simply are not taking risk seriously enough. Hence, the dominant theme of the forum was ‘innovation’ as the essential ingredient if societies are to adapt creatively to a changing climate, changing behavioural patterns and supply chains (especially energy) and the dynamics of demographic and market trends,” stated Graham Bell.

Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović, Secretary General of Europa Nostra, and Oliver Martin, Swiss Federal Office, Chair of the Davos Baukultur Alliance at the Alliance Meeting 2024 in Geneva. © World Economic Forum/Marc Bader


The ambition of the Davos Baukultur Alliance has become global, but Europa Nostra’s voice and network bring a European experience in which emerging political repositioning could have a profound impact upon relationships between historic settlements and their citizens’ livelihoods. ‘Innovation’ and even ‘Baukultur’ may be unfamiliar terms in our sector, but in the spirit of the New European Bauhaus and our engagement in the European Green Deal Renovation Wave, the Alliance is calling us to be multilingual in the lexicon of exemplary, responsible practices,” added Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, and his wife Hilde, co-founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship; Antonio Hodgers, President of the Geneva Government, State Councillor, Department of Territorial Development, Canton of Geneva;  and Alois Zwinggi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum at the Davos Baukultur Alliance Meeting 2024 in Geneva. © World Economic Forum/Marc Bader


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