A major challenge for Europe and the world is to promote cultural heritage (CH) protection as a lever for the enhancement of the society’s identity and the integration of “culture as an enabler for sustainable development”. To achieve this, CH protection needs to be approached through a circular economy framework within private-public partnerships, according to the principles of sustainable conservation and development, to improve quality of life, foster employment, augment social cohesion and boost participation of the society in decision making.

CH protection has evolved, transforming from protection and restoration to rehabilitation and conservation. This evolution was triggered by past experience and became feasible due to technological advancements, allowing a successful shift from a largely empirically-oriented approach, to a scientific-oriented approach and towards a sustainability-oriented approach. Such an evolution from “observation”, to “action”, to “vision” is also a fundamental element of our society.

New knowledge must break the boundaries of science and engineering and be integrated in education. In the field of CH protection, this was achieved through the development of new learning mechanisms and educational material, taking into consideration the experience from existing interdisciplinary postgraduate study programs and actively promoting in situ education. The added value of this approach is the education of the youth towards this new vision.