Task force on Circular business and financial models for cultural heritage adaptive reuse in cities


Cultural heritage is considered a resource for local sustainable development, although there are some contradictions.

The sites recognized as cultural heritage are increasing; the costs for functional maintenance / reuse are growing, while public resources available are becoming scarcer, and private actors are increasingly focused on the short time for payback.

The consequence is that there is a growing risk that the decay of heritage increases year by year, because of lack of funding support and viable business models.

Cultural heritage is a non-renewable cultural capital and it is linked to the economy because economics refers to the management of scarce and non-renewable resources; for these reasons, heritage conservation is also an economic choice.


The Task Force on “Circular business and financial models for cultural heritage adaptive reuse in cities” is jointly promoted by the European Commission Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and DG Research & Innovation. It takes the cue from the Horizon 2020 project “CLIC – Circular models Leveraging Investments in Cultural heritage adaptive reuse”, sharing its overall objective and enlarging its scope to a wider community of innovators in cultural heritage.

The overarching goal of the Task Force is to create a community of research and practice players stimulating more effective dialogue and creating operational synergies between the cultural, social and environmental sectors, which can highly benefit from exchange of knowledge, tools and approaches, fostering urban circularity, increasing regeneration, boosting inclusive economic growth and enhancing people’s wellbeing.

Participants to the Task Force will share research results, as well as the innovative models and tools developed in many European research and innovation projects and cross-cutting EU/global organizations focused on cultural heritage conservation and circular economy implementation, fostering the adoption of innovative solutions by end-users and decision-makers.

Aims of the Task Force

The Task Force will help to identify innovative circular business and financial models to place cultural heritage adaptive reuse as at the forefront for the implementation of a European model of circular economy and circular city-region centered on the regeneration of cultural and natural capital.

The Task Force will build on the legacy of the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018, that already brought together sectorial European institutions (DGs) to recognize the cross-cutting role of culture for sustainable development.

It aims to contribute to the “paradigm-shift” proposed in the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals, and in New Urban Agenda (NUA), towards the “humanization of cities” (§ 26 of the NUA).

This means in particular to contribute to:

  • Regenerate the “connective infrastructure” of our city/society
  • Regenerate community bonds, through regenerating the collective memory
  • Overcome self-oriented approaches promoting symbioses and cooperative thinking

The Task Force puts together three different elements: the circular economy approach, the circular city model, the adaptive reuse of cultural heritage, in a triangle of reciprocal interdependence.


is the economy of natural bio eco/system that reduces entropy, increases resilience and stimulates cooperation between components (it starts from the search of efficiency, but it is based and it stimulates cooperation / synergies. It is the economy of co-evolution, cooperation, co-ordination of actions for a common interest.


it is the concept of city as a living complex dynamic circular system, cities able to self-organize, self-manage, self-govern themselves.


it is the memory itself of the urban living system; it is the heart of the city, its identity conserved over the centuries.

These relationships can be created through the elaboration of innovative business, financing and governance models able to put together, in a reciprocal and circular flow of benefit, the three main players: the private sector, both the entrepreneurs and the owners; the public sector; the local community.