Belgium - Wallonia
Belgium’s first heritage legislation is the law of 7 August 1931 on conservation of monuments and sites. Today, under the special law of 8 August 1988, management of the built cultural heritage rests with the Regions and the German-speaking Community. Each federate entity discharges its responsibility independently.
To implement its policy, the Walloon Minister for Heritage relies on three key institutional players:
- the Heritage Department belonging to the Operational Directorate of Spatial Planning, Housing, Heritage and Energy and handling the implementation of the Walloon regulations on heritage;
- the Walloon Heritage Institute vested with specific missions such as real property management (assistance to defaulting owners, management of regional properties with heritage value), developing a training centre for heritage crafts, and raising public awareness (European Heritage Days, various publications, etc.) and;
- the Royal Commission for Monuments, Sites and Excavations, an advisory body made up of volunteer heritage specialists appointed by the Walloon Government, which delivers opinions either at the request of the Minister for Heritage or of its own motion.
Heritage management also involves the universities, the scientific institutes and a wide range of associations.
Integrated conservation is the aim of Walloon heritage policy: this is explicitly referred to in Article 1 of the decree of 1 April 1999 on heritage conservation. Walloon heritage policy places upkeep before restoration. This intention materialises in the activities of the heritage maintenance service and the production of a statement of structural soundness (five-yearly inventory of a building’s condition and of work to be scheduled), compliance with which leads to increases in subsidies. The decree of 11 April 2014 has introduced a reference to the world heritage, and defines the principles of management applicable to Walloon sites which are listed or proposed for listing.
Furthermore, every 3 years the Walloon Government establishes the list of Wallonia’s exceptional built heritage, taking inspiration from the World Heritage criteria and adapting them to the regional level. At present, there are 215 items of property on the list.
Finally, citizen participation is encouraged by various measures: possibility for the population to propose a listing, organisation of public enquiries under the procedures for listing and restoration, assistance with the restoration and enhancement of small heritage items bearing witness to the daily life of local communities through the “Petit Patrimoine Populaire Wallon” (Walloon minor folk heritage initiative).
A Heritage Code is being drawn up and should be adopted during the current legislature (2014-2019).
- Law of 7 August 1931 on conservation of monuments and sites
- Special law on institutional reform of 8 August 1988
- Walloon decree of 1 April 1999 on conservation of the cultural heritage, amended by the decree of 11 April 2014 amending part III of the Walloon Code of Town and Country Planning, Heritage and Energy which makes provisions on the heritage
- Web page: https://wallex.Walloonie.be
- Council of Europe:
- Granada Convention: ratified on 17 September 1992
- Valetta Convention: ratified on 8 August 2010
- Florence Convention: ratified on 28 October 2004
- Faro Framework Convention: signed on 25 June 2012, ratification procedure in hand
- Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage: ratified on 24 July 1996
- Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: ratified on 5 August 2013
- The Hague Convention and First Protocol for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict: ratified on 16 September 1960
- Second Protocol to The Hague Convention: ratified on 13 October 2010
Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property: ratified on 31 March 2009