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World Heritage
Marine Programme

5 focus areas

Our core task: ensuring the long-term conservation of World Heritage marine sites through state of conservation reporting
Building a network of World Heritage marine site managers who share management solutions and best practices across 47 sites
Training site managers to use ecosystem-based marine spatial planning as a tool to optimize marine World Heritage site conservation.
Exploring the potential of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in the High Seas, an area covering nearly 60% of our ocean
Our Mission: To Ensure Long-Term Conservation of World Heritage Marine Sites – 20 % of all MPAs on Earth by surface area

Ensuring conservation
of World Heritage marine sites

We provide essential support – based on scientific data and analysis – to the World Heritage Committee and national governments, so they can monitor and evaluate the state of conservation in World Heritage marine sites.

The Committee uses our annual State of Conservation Reports as the basis for its decisions. Governments use our reports to guide their conservation work on the ground. Government agencies, communities, NGOs and businesses that are working on conservation in the sites use this data and the Committee’s decisions to advance their work.

State of Conservation

Explore 40 years of State of Conservation reports and decisions for World Heritage Marine sites

Learn more. Get the App

Available on
iPad / iphone / Android

In partnership with

Building a global network of site managers

We provide networking, capacity building and cross-site learning opportunities through the World Heritage Marine Site Managers Network so that our site managers can continuously improve their management practice.

Site managers meet in person at our global conferences every three years, and share best practices and other resources on our dedicated site managers network website. Sites with biodiversity connectivity have made formal linkages through the network to safeguard migratory species recognized as of global importance to humanity.


Managers Network platform
(for World Heritage managers only)



Global site managers conferences
in USA in 2010 and France 2013

In partnership with

Improving efficiency and
impact through marine spatial planning

We train World Heritage marine site managers to use marine spatial planning as a conservation tool. 
Working with local stakeholders, our site managers facilitate the creation of marine spatial plans, using the mapping process to align all the actors in a site around common objectives.

Together, on-the-ground partners use marine spatial planning to develop plans, regulations and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the site’s special characteristics are conserved and maintained and economic development projects are commensurate World Heritage status.



Interview with Dr Fanny Douvere, Coordinator of UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme, about Marine Spatial Planning: A way forward for sustainable conservation?

Best Practice Guide

Our Best Practice Guide for site managers shares the marine spatial planning methodology and provides examples of its application in World Heritage marine sites
PDF / Flipbook 

In partnership with

Exploring the World Heritage Convention for High Seas conservation

We are actively exploring how the world’s most visible and nearly universally ratified Convention might be applied to the high seas.
The research includes input by legal experts on how World Heritage designation might work to protect important marine areas located in the other half of the planet currently not covered by the Convention.

Our report will list top potential sites that could be of Outstanding Universal Value and list possible ways the Convention could apply in these areas. The work builds on a first expert meeting held in Potsdam in March 2013 with support of the Kaplan Fund. The project is implemented in cooperation with IUCN in their capacity as official advisor for natural World Heritage. The results will be presented to the 40th session World Heritage Committee in mid-2016.

In partnership with

Safegarding Marine World Heritage: Together we can change the world

World Heritage marine sites cover about 20% of all marine protected areas by surface area. The World Heritage Convention works together with nations to ensure these iconic ocean places will be maintained for future generation.

Through ongoing dialogue with governments, the establishment of partnerships with private sector, NGOs and conservation groups as well as support to the day-to-day work of managers and their staff in the field, we help ensure that the unique characteristics that makes up a sites’ World Heritage status are well protected and endure through government transitions to benefit of humanity.

Our Mandate

English | French | Spanish

Annual Newsletter

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

UNESCO’s Marine
World Heritage


UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme takes you on a journey to three exceptional World Heritage marine sites.
Narrated by Gisele Bündchen , UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment

Jaeger-LeCoultre spotlights
Glacier Bay on Earth Day


Since 2008, Jaeger-LeCoultre has brought critical resources and public awareness to the 47 Marine World Heritage sites. On Earth Day 2015 the watch manufacturer is shining a light on Glacier Bay National Park.
Articles Archive

Voices of the future


The World Heritage Centre gives the floor to the future generations. If we can't protect these 46 sites listed as World Heritage for their Outstanding Universal Value, what hope is there for the rest of the oceans?

Historic Twinning Arrangement

Banc d’Arguin National Park and Wadden Sea sign historic Twinning Arrangement.
Watch the film
Read the Agreement

Tides of Time

The International New York Times has been a partner of UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme from 2008 to 2014 through the innovative Tides of Time partnership supported by Jaeger-LeCoultre
Video Archive | Articles Archive


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