Removed heritage expert brought back to save Valletta’s UNESCO status

Anthony Pace, Malta’s first superintendent for cultural heritage, who was removed from his post in 2018, has been brought back by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici to save Malta’s capital from being de-listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Shift is informed that Pace, responsible for many controversial heritage decisions under both Nationalist Party and Labour Party administrations, was appointed late last year as the coordinator of Valletta’s updated management plan.

With several government-appointed experts, Pace has been tasked with drafting the new updated plan, which should include a ‘Vistas and Views Analysis’ of the capital and a review of Valetta’s buffer zone.

Anthony Pace was removed from the post of superintendent in 2018

The updated management plan, a requirement under the World Heritage Convention, has been asked for by UNESCO since 2011. However, after more than a decade, the report is still not finalised.

Last September, during a meeting of the UNESCO convention in Riyadh, Malta was given until the end of 2024 to present its long-awaited report on Valletta’s conservation.

Although UNESCO officially avoided threatening Malta with a downgrade, in case the report remains elusive, experts told The Shift that this is the last chance being given.

The Shift is also informed that work on this 2011 updated management plan was only started last year and is still not finalised.

Actual work on the new Vistas and Views Analysis was only commissioned by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici last summer and is still not concluded.

According to information sought through a Freedom of Information request, criminologist Saviour Formosa has been tasked to conduct a view shed survey while university lecturer and architect Wendy Jo Mifsud is working on the views analysis.

According to her contract, Mifsud is only expected to conclude her work in March.

The actual compiling of the management plan is being carried out by Anthony Pace, assisted by Aleks Farrugia, a former editor of the newspaper It-Torca, who has been appointed Valletta site manager.

Both Pace and Farrugia are part of the public service.

Asked a few weeks ago by PN culture spokesperson Julie Zahra for an update, Bonnici said the government should now be able to meet the new UNESCO deadline.

He insisted that the delay did not affect Valletta’s status as a world heritage site.


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