This month, our ESACH Talks focuses on the challenges and opportunities around the UNESCO World Heritage programme.
The World Heritage Committee is the body responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the use of the World Heritage Fund, and inscriptions on the World Heritage List.
During their yearly meeting, the committee composed of 21 State Parties examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and requests actions to improve the management of the properties listed.
Because young people are seldom part of the State Party delegations. UNESCO seeks to incorporate fresh perspectives to join the conversation by introducing initiatives such as the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum. This side event to the Committee Meeting is a flagship activity from the Heritage Education Programme and aims to foster intercultural learning and exchange.
Another important forum that has brought technical expertise from young voices in the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum. Their experiences from the field are crucial to strengthen heritage protection and their contributions to improve decision-making procedures help the convention remain a favorable tool to those dealing with heritage on a daily basis.
In addition to the forums, interns at the World Heritage Centre, and with the Advisory Bodies: IUCN, ICOMOS, and ICCROM are also invited to join the event. Master and Ph.D. students of specialized programs on heritage management and conservation from around the world provide a further influx of young blood to the event. These students analyze procedures in the committee as part of their research programmes and work helping the complex logistics behind the grand event run smoothly.
To celebrate young voices involved in #WorldHeritage, we have compiled some statements from students of the Brandenburg University of Technology, who attended the 42nd and 43rd sessions of the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain (2018) and Baku (2019) respectively.
"I got very emotional when 'Budj Bim Cultural Landscape' (Australia) made it on the World Heritage List. The inscription is a positive step after decades of struggles and fights of Indigenous peoples to play an active and primary role in the World Heritage arena. I am looking forward to more moments like this one in the future!"
"As is known, the identification and protection of the world's natural and cultural heritage treasures considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value is the spirit of the World Heritage Convention, and that is what should be the guiding principle to the work of the World Heritage Committee. Here, too, international cooperation must come before individual States' interests."
Emilia Sánchez González
“I felt inspired by the work of the advisory bodies grounding the meaning of heritage protection at the committee. Thanks to their efforts, the mechanism of danger-listing is starting to heal from its bad image and recover its constructive aim in the eyes of the State Parties. At the 42COM (Bahrain) we celebrated the Belize Barrier Reef coming off the list after years of impressive collective efforts, and at the 43COM (Baku) we applauded the decision to include the protected areas of the Gulf of California.”
“In Baku, I had the chance to learn from site managers working on remote islands to urban cities. It was wonderful to see the diverse range of World Heritage Sites and the people who manage and advocate for them! ”
Juan Carlos Barrientos
“The Committee meetings I attended were an opportunity to see what really goes on behind closed doors within this particular community of heritage professionals, politicians and diplomats who seem to all know each other. I discovered that more often than not, diplomatic circumstances are an indispensable element to decision making about ‘World Heritage’ or conservation policy. Even so, the advisory bodies usually put up a good fight! ”
As a network developed by youth and for youth, at ESACH we celebrate every effort to bring young people to the table.
Would you like to share your experience at the World Heritage Committee?
Write us an E-mail to compile a 2nd post featuring more young voices actively engaged with #CulturalHeritage and #WorldHeritage awareness, protection, and management.