HOW is the Historic Urban Landscape approach applied?
The day-to-day management of cities and other dynamic environments involves a careful balancing act about the competing demands of different groups in society, in particular as regards the question how to allocate the limited resources available. In this process, the debate often unfolds that pitches heritage conservation against development, both of which are still seen as opposing forces. However, international research and practice in several parts of the world increasingly shows that heritage conservation is a viable strategy for inner city revitalization and urban regeneration.

The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach, as promoted in the new UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, facilitates a structuring and priority setting of the needs and wishes in the broader urban development and heritage management process. It is creating clarity and understanding in an often complex process.

The structuring and priority setting can be achieved through a series of steps that place local culture and heritage, as well as the values and meaning they carry, at the heart of the decision making process. These steps include (UNESCO General Conference 36th Session, August 2011):
(a) Undertaking comprehensive surveys and mapping of the city’s natural, cultural and community resources.
(b) Reaching a reasonable degree of consensus, through the use of participatory planning and stakeholder consultations, regarding what cultural heritage values to protect for inspiration and enjoyment of present generations as well as transmission to future ones, and determining the attributes that carry these values.
(c) Assessing the vulnerability of these attributes to socio-economic pressures and impacts of climate change.
(d) Integrating urban heritage values and their vulnerability status into a wider framework of city development, which shall provide indications of areas of heritage sensitivity that require careful attention to planning, design and implementation of development projects.
(e) Prioritizing policies and actions for conservation and development.
(f) Establishing the appropriate partnerships and local management frameworks for each of the identified projects for conservation and development, as well as to develop mechanisms for the coordination of the various activities between different actors, public, private and civic.
This six-point Action Plan is considered to be the lowest common denominator, applicable in principle to the majority, if not all historic cities in the different geo-cultural regions of the world.

To facilitate a broadening of the understanding of the HUL approach among non-specialist stakeholders, UNESCO developed a practical information brochure. UNESCO Brochure 'New Life for Historic Cities'

Primarily three key groups are to be involved:
- Public sector that manages the city: local government officials, urban planners and site managers, among others.
- Private sector that operates in the city: entrepreneurs, developers and business corporations, among others.
- Civic sector that resides in the city: NGOs, volunteer organizations and citizens advocacy groups, among others.

The critical issue is that by enlarging the group of actors a greater buy-in can be achieved, which will ultimately result in fewer conflicts and thus speedier implementation of projects, and hence greater satisfaction. This of course has great implications for the social, economic and political side of urban heritage management.

The HUL approach aims to define operational principles able to ensure urban conservation models that respect different cultural traditions as well as to position urban heritage at the centre of the spatial development process.