Understanding, managing and conserving World Heritage properties requires up-to-date knowledge and well-honed skills. To help build the capacity of all stakeholders in World Heritage – whether they are practitioners, institutions, communities or networks – the World Heritage Centre has created a number of tools and activities that foster people-centred change, centring on groups of individuals to improve approaches to managing cultural and natural heritage.
Over time, many of the capacity-building activities have been supported through extrabudgetary projects funded by the States Parties to the Convention, as well as through the regular activities of the World Heritage Centre.
Capacity Building is one of the Strategic Objectives (or “Five C’s”) of the World Heritage Committee and is at the core of the sustainable implementation of the Convention.
The Capacity Building Strategy
for World Heritage
The original Global Training Strategy was launched in 2001 and was succeeded by the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS) in June 2011, highlighting a conceptual shift from training to capacity building for cultural and natural heritage (Decision 35 COM 9B).
The Strategy was developed by the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with ICCROM, IUCN, ICOMOS and other capacity-building partners, such as World Heritage Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO in various regions of the world. The work was made possible by contributions from the World Heritage Fund and the Swiss Government, which also provided professional expertise.
Since the adoption of the WHCBS, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and capacity-building partners have been working to implement capacity-building activities at both the regional and international levels to address the needs of heritage practitioners, institutions and other networks and communities. They have also developed specific regional strategies to strengthen World Heritage-related capacities. Reinforcing the capacity-building pillar of the Convention continues to be a priority to equip States Parties with the relevant expertise to protect and manage their sites, as well as to ensure a representative, credible and balanced World Heritage List. Many States Parties have integrated key provisions into national legislations, policies and strategic frameworks including, in some instances, cross-cutting domains of importance for sustainable development.
The Committee reviews the progress accomplished with the implementation of the WHCBS at its annual sessions. As the 10th anniversary of the WHCBS has come in 2021, the World Heritage Committee has requested an evaluation, which it will review at its 45th session in 2022. The World Heritage Centre and ICCROM have also proposed to define guidelines with a view to updating the WHCBS, which may be presented to the Committee for review at its 46th session in 2023, if funding allows.
and Core Topics
In cooperation with States Parties, capacity-building activities organised as part of the WHCBS address the two Strategic Priorities of UNESCO: Africa and Gender Equality. Recent highlights include:
- UNESCO-Africa-China Forum on World Heritage Capacity Building and Cooperation
- Project to support the Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Côte d'Ivoire/Guinea) for the empowerment of local communities and the finalization of the Desired State of conservation for the removal of a property from the List of World Heritage Danger (DSCOR)
- Capacity building for nomination and promotion of World Heritage sites in five Eastern African countries
- Capacity building in risk management and protection systems in for six African countries
- Sustainable Development and Community Involvement project, especially the gender-transformative activities in Makli, Pakistan
UNESCO supports Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their efforts to achieve sustainable development, which reflects the priority status assigned to SIDS in UNESCO’s current strategy.
UNESCO has long considered youths a priority group for the Organization, and the World Heritage Education Programme has ensured since 1994 the active role of youth in World Heritage through capacity-building.
and Climate Change
The World Heritage Convention recognises some World Heritage properties specifically for their outstanding biodiversity values. Below are some links on capacity building and biodiversity.
in a Post-COVID-19 World
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many governments have taken measures to restrict movements of people and access to certain areas. This includes the closure of natural and cultural World Heritage sites in the 167 countries that currently have one or more sites on the List. The World Heritage Centre continued to foster capacity building in all forms, including by shifting to online tools and resources and holding innovative workshops for all levels of heritage management.
The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy highlights the importance of addressing a wide range of audiences and expects that activities are carried out by different entities, such as the Advisory Bodies, Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO, and UNESCO Chairs, in addition to the dedicated actions of each State Party. Here are the partners that have recently supported capacity-building efforts:
- International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)
- International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
- International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
- Cultural Heritage Administration of the Republic of Korea
- Category 2 Centres
In 2016, ICCROM, IUCN and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and the Environment launched the World Heritage Leadership Programme, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS. This Programme aims to improve conservation and management practices for culture and nature through the work of the World Heritage Convention, as an integral component of the contribution of World Heritage properties to sustainable development.World Heritage Leadership | ICCROM
World Heritage Leadership | IUCN
- Capacity building “Cultural heritage and local development”, 18-21 November 2008, Porto Novo, Benin
- Capacity-building for the representatives of religious communities
- Capacity-building programme for the nomination of World Heritage sites in the Africa Region supported by Government of Japan
- Caribbean Capacity Building Programme (CCBP)
- SIDS Capacity Building
- Call for Expressions of Interest for the Evaluation of the UNESCO World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy 22-Feb-2022
- UNESCO and ICCROM launch training initiative strengthening management of African World Heritage sites 03-Jan-2022
- Online Workshop on World Heritage Impact Assessments for the Arab States 10-Dec-2021
- Launch of a new phase of the UNESCO/China Youth Development Foundation Mercedes-Benz Star Fund for conservation and management of World Heritage sites in China 22-Oct-2021
- Call for applications: UNESCO Earth Network to support sites 19-Oct-2021