The World Heritage Convention at 40: Engaging the IUCN constituency for conservation and communities

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is 40 in 2012, and this historic year will define the direction of the Convention for the next ten years and beyond. Since its foundation, and with the consistent advice of IUCN as its official advisory body on nature, the Convention has recognized 211 natural World Heritage Sites of Outstanding Universal Value – these sites include 10% of the land and sea included within the global protected areas system. The Convention’s unique site-based focus offers unique opportunities for delivering international support for conservation. Key challenges include the expectation of increased benefits for communities, growing threats including mining and climate change, and respond to changing political dynamics in its decision-taking processes. The IUCN World Conservation Congress is a major 40th anniversary event, and this workshop is a centerpiece of World Heritage activities at WCC, focusing on the future of natural World Heritage. Supported and organized by the IUCN World Heritage Programme, and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, it will review the State of the World Heritage Convention at 40, and be the main platform at WCC to influence its future. It will invite the audience to guide and challenge the Convention’s contribution to wider conservation goals, its engagement with community rights and benefits, and its heartland work of delivering practical support to the governance, resourcing and effective conservation of management of World Heritage Sites. It will discuss how to further improve the Convention’s track record on achieving conservation benefits for World Heritage sites, using the key role IUCN plays as an advisory body but also by better engaging with the wider IUCN networks, Commissions and Members. It will prepare a message from the conservation community to the World Heritage Committee with concrete recommendations on how to ensure the credibility of the Convention over the next decade.

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