For Active Profile, Liverpool is our home. It is a city we love, and we know that our love is shared by people from across this region, the country and the world. So to say today’s decision from UNESCO to remove our World Heritage status is bizarre is no understatement.
Why has it made the decision?
What UNESCO seems to be saying is that it never wants any place to evolve. It wants heritage to be static, but of course, it never is. Heritage evolves because it has to adapt to survive. Every day, we work with clients who know that, and who celebrate communities by developing projects that improve areas while respecting their past.
We think this is exactly what is happening in Liverpool, and the proposals, such as Everton’s new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock, are all about making an already vibrant city even more exciting.
Anyone unsure on the value of Liverpool’s waterfront only needs to look at it to see how important and how impressive it is. Whether you view it across the Mersey from Wirral to see a panorama that never fails to inspire, or by walking along the river from dock to dock, seeing the huge changes that have taken place. From the Museum of Liverpool to the M&S Bank Arena, you will be taking in the culture and history of a city that has seen so much over the years and will see so much more in the years ahead.
So, what happens next?
Earlier this year I wrote about the importance of building relationships to ensure your message would be heard and said that, with the right arguments, every stakeholder will usually be willing to listen. Clearly, there will always be exceptions, and, up to now, it seems UNESCO has been unwilling to listen to the well-reasoned and clear arguments of Liverpool’s leaders. Indeed, as the city’s mayor Joanne Anderson has said, it comes ‘a decade after they last visited the city to see it with their own eyes’.
So what next? Well, the best thing Liverpool can do – and what I am sure they will do – is carry on, show UNESCO why it is wrong, and bring the benefits of the investment and redevelopment that is happening right now to everyone in the city.
Seeing the opportunities
Will the city of The Beatles, the liver birds and football now see a drop in visitors because it’s been removed from a list of what an unaccountable organisation thinks are the most important heritage sites in the world? I doubt it. In fact, I think many will see the coverage of the decision, accompanied by pictures of a stunning skyline and city, and decide they want to see for themselves what Liverpool has to offer.
I hope people do. And when they do, they will no doubt agree that this city is one of the greatest in the world, with one of the most impressive waterfronts and one of the most important stories to tell. Of its past, yes, but also of its future. And we don’t need to be on a list to know that.