The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) was founded on September 8, 1993 in Fez, Morocco. The Organization is composed of 238 cities in which are located sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These 238 World Heritage Cities have a combined population of over 130 million. Within the Organization, these cities are represented by their Mayors with the active participation of their heritage management specialists.
The OWHC's headquarters are located in Québec City, which hosted the First International Symposium of World Heritage Cities in July 1991.
The primary objectives of the Organization are to favor the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, to encourage co-operation and the exchange of information and expertise on matters of conservation and management as well as to develop a sense of solidarity among its member cities. To this end, the OWHC organizes World Congresses, conferences, seminars and workshops dealing with the challenges to be met in the realm of management and strategies pertaining to the preservation and development of historic cities.
The Mayors of World Heritage cities that have paid their annual membership fees make up the General Assembly, the Organization’s paramount authority. The General Assembly has meets every two years.
The Board of Directors is made up of eight Mayors elected by the General Assembly. It meets at least once a year.
The General Secretariat is directed by the Secretary General, appointed by the General Assembly, who oversees the execution of mandates adopted by the members, the day-to-day administration of the Organization, personnel management and hiring.
Seven Regional Secretariats support the work of the General Secretariat:
- Bergen (Norway) for North-West European Region
- Budapest (Hungary) for Central and Eastern European Region
- Córdoba (Spain) for South Europe and Mediterranean Region
- Valparaiso (Chile) for Latin America Region
- Kazan (Russian Federation) for Euro-Asia Region
- Tunis (Tunisia) for North Africa and Arab States Region
- Zanzibar (Tanzania) for East Africa Region