Discussion and conclusion
Lalibela’s conservation challenges from the 1960s to today show the evolution of the fi eld, but at the same time show that the best solutions always share certain elements: passion, adequate funding, local engagement, and a vision for stewardship. Fixing problems, as was evidenced from decades of good intentions throughout the twentieth century, can turn out to resolve only short-term issues or superfi cial problems. The collaborative engagement model, if successful, stands a much greater chance of adding lasting value to the site. Economics plays a key role in these solutions. To protect our shared cultural heritage, we must develop effective methods to show clearly that heritage sites are not a drain on economic resources. Lalibela illustrates that an investment in the site can bring great rewards. While we are trained to speak effectively about the technical conservation work and the cultural signifi cance of sites, we must learn to tell the parallel story of the educational and economic benefi ts of sustainable conservation solutions that assure these sites contribute effectively to the larger regional and national development plans.