Over the last decades, in an era of holistic and integrative thinking for sustainable development, cultural heritage is gaining attention of scholars and policy makers as an instrument for sustainable development. Critics consider use as a threat to heritage, leading to commercialization, exploitation and destruction.

It gains momentum, however, the view that cultural heritage has economic value and that heritage preservation occurs when heritage elements are in actual use, thus generating revenue to sustain preservation. Further, there are arguments that many if not most of the benefits derived from cultural heritage are realized only in the course of actual use. Among the proponents of heritage use we find not only economists and sociologists but also many who have traditionally opposed the idea, such as archaeologists, anthropologists, legal scientists and even preservationists.

Economic science has recently developed pertinent tools and concepts, initially used for environmental goods and services that are suitable in assessing the economic value of Cultural Heritage. The use of these economic tools in the assessment of the economic value of cultural heritage has been the subject of research in the European Research Framework Programme and has produced very interesting results that can assist in designing public policies for sustainable development and smart growth.

InHERiT is a three-years ERASMUS + programme aiming at raising awareness about the economic value of architectural heritage and its crucial role in creating local and regional development, contributing, thus, to building a "smart, sustainable and inclusive economy" in Europe with high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. The partners of InHERiT are the School of Architecture, Technical University of Crete, Greece (leader), the Department of Economics, University of Athens, Greece, the Business School, Middlesex University, London, Maniatakeion Foundation, Greece, Neapolis University Pafos, Cyprus, the Center for Mediterranean Architecture (KEPPEDIH-KAM), Chania, Greece and Fondazione Flaminia, Ravenna, Italy.

The Department of Economics, University of Athens and the Maniatakeion Foundation, key partners in the ERASMUS + InHERiT Programme, organize this International Seminar titled "Cultural Heritage as Economic Value: Economic Benefits, Social Opportunities, and Challenges of Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Development." Cultural Heritage is a complex and elusive concept, constantly evolving through time, and combining cultural, aesthetic, symbolic, spiritual, historical and economic values. This Seminar aims to contribute (a) to the design and analysis of cultural heritage public policies by examining the economic value of cultural heritage and its contribution to sustainable development, and (b) to the design of projects and activities for heritage enhancement with a number of case studies.