“We need to involve the private sector more” to save Europe’s endangered heritage said Henry von Blumenthal, Deputy Dean of the EIB Institute, at the 5th Anniversary Conference of the 7 Most Endangered (7ME) programme organised in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 22-24 October by Europa Nostra and the Centre for Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) with the support of the EIB Institute, the European Commission and other partners.

“If heritage is to cement social and economic cohesion in Europe then shouldn’t we engage more with representatives of the tourism industry or representatives of companies established in revitalized neighbourhoods?”, he asked. He also announced the Institute’s idea to organise in 2019 in Luxembourg a pilot matchmaking event between endangered sites in need of funding and private funders, possibly alongside public financiers.

Since 2013, the Institute has been cooperating with Europa Nostra under the 7ME programme to identify monuments and sites under acute danger of neglect or destruction with EIB experts carrying out on site missions and producing technical reports typically including a quantified rescue plan.

In Nicosia whose Buffer Zone was one of the 7 Most Endangered first selected sites, some 100 heritage experts from 20 countries shared the lessons learned since the launch of the programme and discussed future steps.

Most of the selected 29 endangered sites from 19 European countries have moved out of the “danger zone” said Guy Clausse, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra, and three are considered as “successfully finished” (Bourla Theater in Antwerp, Colbert bridge in Dieppe and Subotica synagogue in Serbia). He pointed out that “the sustainability of proposed actions is crucial, including a concept for the later use of the site which often only becomes clear after a good technical and financial analysis”.

“The mere shortlisting and selection of a site can already make a difference if the corresponding increase in national and European visibility is well used”, he added. “Early availability of rather modest seed funding is important to help a promising project get over the start-up hurdles”, he concluded.

Erminia Sciacchitano, Chief Scientific Advisor of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, DG Education and Culture of the European Commission, indicated that the future EU Action Plan for Cultural Heritage will also contribute to saving Europe’s heritage at risk. Other experts presented various funding schemes, from established grants to crowdfunding opportunities like Mario Aymerich, advisor to the EIB Institute, who showed the path “towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe from a financial point of view“.