50 flagship marine protected areas of Outstanding Universal Value:
Beacons of Hope In a Changing Ocean
What we do
Where we work
Since the inscription of the first marine site on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981, our network has grown in to a global collection of unique ocean places stretching from the tropics to the poles. Today, the List includes 50 unique ocean places across 37 countries – recognized for their unique marine biodiversity, singular ecosystem, unique geological processes or incomparable beauty.Learn more →
Marine World Heritage Highlights
In November 2021, UNESCO launched the science roadmap calling to substantially increase science investment to protect Marine World Heritage from climate impacts. 75% of marine World Heritage sites are unprepared to deal with the impact, because of a lack of scientific knowledge. The roadmap provides strategic guidance for science investment at marine World Heritage through the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021 - 2030).
In October 2021, UNESCO launched a global eDNA project that will help measure the vulnerability of marine biodiversity to climate change and the impacts of that change on the distribution and migration patterns of marine life across marine World Heritage sites. The initiative will engage local citizens, guided by expert support, and will be implemented by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and World Heritage Centre, with the support of the Government of Flanders.
In March 2021, UNESCO released the first global scientific assessment of its World Heritage marine sites’ blue carbon ecosystems, highlighting the critical environmental value of these habitats. While these sites represent less than 1% of the world’s ocean, they host at least 21% of the world’s blue carbon ecosystem area, and 15% of the world’s blue carbon assets.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the wave of lockdowns across the globe had unprecedented effects for UNESCO marine World Heritage sites. The steep decline in tourism revenues left many sites struggling to keep rangers on the payroll, prevent illegal activity or to continue much needed research and monitoring. While local communities have seen a drastic reduction of their income, managers and their teams find creative ways to respond to the crisis and prepare for a future that allows people and nature to live in harmony.
In April 2020, the World Heritage Marine Programme launched a new digital knowledge platform that brings local managers from across the 50 marine World Heritage sites together to share best practices and success stories. The goal is to bring the best of expertise, scientific innovation and conservation solutions within reach of local management teams.
Images of the video in chronological order: ©Martial Dosdane - province sud; ©UNESCO/Daniel Correia; ©Brian Sullivan; ©Erick Higuera; ©Ministry of Trade, Sudan Government; ©Mary Bomford; B Navez Public Domain; ©Mary Bomford; Nikita Ovsayanikov/Wild Russia/Public Domain; ©James Watt/Seapics; ©UNESCO/Mark Kelley; ©FAICO; ©Brian Sullivan; ©UNESCO/Daniel Correia; ©Ministry of Trade, Sudan Government; ©UNESCO/Andreas Kruger; ©KfW Stiftung / Stefan Daub; ©UNESCO/Daniel Correia;© @mdf; ©UNESCO/Daniel Correia;
- Aldabra Atoll
- Archipiélago de Revillagigedo
- Area de Conservación Guanacaste
- Banc d'Arguin National Park
- Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
- Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves
- Cocos Island National Park
- UNESCO Marine World Heritage: 2021 in review 01-Mar-2022
- UNESCO Calls For Substantial Investment In Science To Protect Marine World Heritage Against Climate Impact 17-Nov-2021
- COP26 UN Climate Change Conference: progress for UNESCO natural World Heritage 12-Nov-2021
- UNESCO launches global eDNA project to study vulnerability of species to climate change at marine World Heritage sites 19-Oct-2021
- Tribal leaders sign turtle management agreement in New Caledonia 09-Sep-2021
- High-level event: UNESCO Marine World Heritage & the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in the framework of the Ocean Decade 17-Nov-2021-17-Nov-2021
- UNESCO Conference: Identifying Critical Science Gaps at Marine World Heritage Sites 04-Oct-2021-04-Oct-2021
- Online Meeting: How to manage invasive alien species at marine World Heritage sites? 20-May-2021-20-May-2021
- Online Press Conference: UNESCO Marine World Heritage – Custodians of the Globe’s Blue Carbon Assets 02-Mar-2021-02-Mar-2021
- Online Meeting: How to apply the Climate Vulnerability Index to your marine World Heritage site? 03-Dec-2020-03-Dec-2020