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World Heritage

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.

Strategic Priorities
and Core Topics

Small Island
Developing States

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. 

Operational Strategy
on Youth

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.

World Heritage
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:

World Heritage
Leadership Programme

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
Strategic objectives
  • Capacity Building
Decisions (10)
Show 44COM 6
Show 43COM 6
Show 42COM 6
Show 41COM 6
Show 40COM 6
Show 39COM 6
Show 38COM 6
Show 37COM 6
Show 36COM 9B
Show 35COM 9B