My Dear Chairman, Trustees, and Friends

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of Dr Ron Van Oers, on 28th April 2015 in Lhasa, Tibet, where he was on a UNESCO Mission for the Chinese Government.
Some 15 years ago I called UNESCO in Paris on a whim to seek advice on the formation and mission of The Foundation. The telephone was answered by Ron, who said it was his first week in UNESCO, but we were welcome to come and talk. From this first contact with Ron the Foundation was born and our first UNESCO Conference in Latin America, The Green Mountain initiative in Libya, our work in Romania (Ron’s wife Cristina is Romanian) and the USA and much more. Through Ron we met with Francesco Bandarin Assistant Director General Culture UNESCO, and a host of world experts in architectural conservation and landscape protection.
The Foundation owes a great debt of gratitude to Ron and we shall sorely miss not only his wise counsel and guidance but also his enthusiasm, energy and drive. We have lost a great friend and supporter.

My kind regards,
Colonel Michael R Carrington
Director General
The Maria Nobrega Foundation

Obituary message from from Francesco Bandarin:

Like all of you, I am under shock for the terrible news of the sudden and untimely death of Ron, that occurred in Lhasa, Tibet.
I woke up this morning thinking of him, of his vitality, energy, enthusiasm, irony and intellectual strength. He was for me more than a friend, he was a brother.
In the past 14 years, we have shared professional endeavours and our passion for conservation, for travel, for books and for life. We had embraced the challenge of strengthening urban conservation approaches and methods, and we had embarked in the exercise of co-authoring books on this. This professional partnership was very special and remains unique in my life.
Working with Ron was a real pleasure, as we could bring together reflections, experiences and insights that were complementary and mutually reinforcing. It was an exercise full of joy and creative energy that has enriched my life and intellectual practice. I am deeply grateful to Ron for this gift.
I admired his analytical skills, and his ability to inject vision and operational perspectives in conservation planning, in the most diverse contexts. Ron was a truly global expert, and his professional expertise was based on a strong academic preparation and on an extensive knowledge of the field.
For years, we worked together on institutional programs and strategies, on the preparation of international workshops and on the development of UNESCO Centres, on technical assignments and reports. We undertook many missions together in all regions of the world. His contribution to the advancement of heritage conservation has been remarkable.
His passion for travel and exploration was legendary. I remember spending hours with him studying maps, exchanging impressions, plans and tales of travel. But his choices were always beyond reach, like when he went on a 11 days trekking tour across Greenland to qualify for a place in the expedition across South Georgia the following year. Or when he travelled for a month in a small boat is the South Pacific to visit the impossibly remote island of Pitcairn. His adventure spirit opened many new frontiers to me.
Ron was a special human being, one of those rare that combined vision and pragmatism, audacity and realism, humour and intellectual rigor. I will deeply miss him.

Farewell, brother,
Sit tibi terra levis

Dr. Ron van Oers, Vice Director of the World Heritage Institute for Training and Research in Asia and the Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (WHITRAP-Shanghai), Research Fellow at Advanced Research Institute of Architecture and Urban-Rural Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai

Text written by his UNESCO colleagues:

Born and raised in The Netherlands, Ron received his Master Degrees in Urban Planning (1993) and Technological Design (1996), from the Delft University of Technology and Eindhoven University of Technology respectively. He went on to receive his Doctorate Degree on 17th and 18th Century Dutch colonial town planning (2000).

Prior to joining the World Heritage Institute of Training and Research in Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITRAP), Ron held a successful career in the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris. From 2003 to 2005 he was ‘Chief of Unit’ for the Latin American and Caribbean Region, and since 2005 he coordinated the Small Island Developing States Programme, as well as the World Heritage Cities Programme.

Since 2009, Ron has become affiliated with WHITRAP, and in 2012 he officially joined WHITRAP as the Vice-Director in Shanghai. He devoted his expertise and extensive knowledge to heritage conservation and sustainable development through training, research, publications, and the continuous promotion of best practices. He also contributed greatly to the institutional development of WHITRAP through network and visionary strategy. He was instrumental in developing the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach, which was adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2011. Also holding the position of Research Fellow at the Advanced Research Institute of Architecture and Urban-Rural Planning at Tongji University in Shanghai, Ron co-chaired the project Road Map for the Application of the HUL Approach in China and achieved fruitful results.

Ron was invaluable to the worldwide heritage discourse. He was particularly treasured by the staff of WHITRAP, who benefited closely from his knowledge and enthusiasm for heritage conservation, as well as his friendship and passion for life. Ron will be long remembered by the staff of WHITRAP and the world heritage community. We would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Ron van Oers. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.