Cultural Heritage and Economic Development from China to Benin

Virtual Event

Join us for an online discussion exploring the socio-economic impacts of heritage preservation 

Tangible and intangible cultural heritage can serve as important drivers of local and regional development, providing opportunities to improve livelihoods across the world. Exploring the potential of heritage for socio-economic impact, this event will consider cases from two World Monuments Fund (WMF) projects in China and Benin.  

In China, the conservation of Dali Dong Village’s historic buildings revealed a rapid decline of local textile traditions and the exclusion of women in heritage preservation. The project established a women’s traditional textile cooperative to create an inclusive model for capacity building and economic sustainability in heritage. WMF took on this project following its strategic affiliation with Global Heritage Fund (GHF) in 2023.   

In Benin, WMF has been working at the Koutammakou cultural landscape since 2020 to help build resilience within communities by improving livelihoods, conserving ecosystems, and preserving culture. One of the project’s main aims is to enable the development of micro-entrepreneurial activities by women to reduce human pressure on ecosystems and increase resources available to invest in conservation.  

Join us for an inside look into these projects and what they can tell us about the potential for heritage-driven development. Guest speakers will feature Stephen Battle, principal project Director; Paul Burtenshaw, senior director of monitoring and evaluation; and Kuanghan Li, regional representative for China. The panel will be moderated by Bénédicte de Montlaur, president and CEO of WMF, with opening remarks from Ro King, WMF President's Council member and chair of the GHF Board of Directors. 

Time: 12:00 pm ET 
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2024 
Location: Zoom Webinar 

This event has already taken place.

World Monuments Fund’s work at Koutammakou has been made possible, in part, by support from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) and the U.S. Embassy Cotonou.


About the Speakers

Stephen Battle

Principal Project Director, WMF

Stephen Battle is an architect with 30 years of professional experience managing conservation projects in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. He started on his professional path in Zanzibar working on projects in the historic Stone Town. From 1998 to 2008, he worked for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture based in Geneva, as project manager for conservation and urban rehabilitation projects in Syria, Tanzania, and Pakistan. He joined World Monuments Fund in 2009 as Program Director, responsible for managing WMF’s projects in Africa. He has led major multi-year conservation projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives, and Uganda.


Paul Burtenshaw

Senior Director of Monitoring and Evaluation

Paul Burtenshaw is an expert in heritage economics, project evaluation, and how cultural heritage supports sustainable and community development. Paul completed his PhD at University College London into how cultural heritage is valued and measured as an economic asset. Between 2014 and 2019 he was the Director of Projects at Sustainable Preservation Initiative, a US-based organization that developed community enterprises linked to local development and heritage preservation, before becoming a freelance consultant.  Paul has worked globally on a variety of heritage preservation, evaluation, economic development and tourism projects with community organizations, national governments, academics, private foundations, international heritage organizations and development banks.


Kuanghan Li

Regional Representative, China

Kuanghan Li joined World Monuments Fund in October 2023. Her principal responsibilities include the conservation and development of traditional villages in Guizhou Province, where she works closely with local partners including government authorities, NGOs, universities, and local research institutes, as well as the communities on planning, conservation, and community development issues. Previously, Han served as the Director of the China Heritage Program at Global Heritage Fund, where she managed all GHF’s conservation Projects in China.

Han has worked as a consultant to the Getty Conservation Institute’s China Principles Project, and has extensive experience with various architectural design and historic preservation projects in the US, India, France, Morocco, and China, which are affiliated with organizations such as Peking University Cultural Heritage Conservation Research Institute, Namgyal Institute of Research in Ladakhi Art and Culture, India National Trust of Art and Cultural Heritage, to name a few.

Han holds a BA in architectural studies from the National University of Singapore, a Master’s degree in historic preservation and an Advanced Certificate in Architectural Conservation and Site Management from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph. D. from Peking University in cultural heritage conservation. She is fluent in Mandarin, French, and English.


Bénédicte de Montlaur, WMF.

Bénédicte de Montlaur

President and CEO, WMF

Bénédicte de Montlaur is President and CEO of World Monuments Fund (WMF), the world’s foremost private organization dedicated to saving extraordinary places while empowering the communities around them. She is responsible for defining WMF’s strategic vision, currently implementing that vision in more than 30 countries around the world and leading a team that spans the globe. Her background mixes culture and the arts, politics, international diplomacy, and human rights. Prior to joining WMF, Montlaur spent two decades working across three continents as a senior diplomat at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.