Under the framework of the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee and following the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention celebrated in November 2022, the 5th World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum brings together World Heritage site managers to discuss challenges and opportunities in managing World Heritage for the next 50 years.  

WHSMF posterRome, 11 September 2023 – From 11 to 15 September 2023, 88 World Heritage site managers will meet in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for a 5-day forum organized for those tasked with managing 70 of our treasured World Heritage sites. This edition of the forum was held in a hybrid format; the meeting in Riyadh follows three online sessions that were held in June and July 2023. 

The 5th World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum will open on 11 September 2023 with a ceremony hosted by the Chairperson of the extended 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, Dr Abdulelah Al-Tokhais; the CEO of the Heritage Commission, Dr Jasir Al-Herbish; the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Mr Lazare Eloundou Assom; and ICCROM Director-General, Dr Webber Ndoro. The forum will begin with a focus on critical and emerging issues facing World Heritage, such as managing disaster risk and the impacts of climate change, and ongoing challenges such as engaging communities and monitoring management results.  

On 12 September, forum participants will attend the World Heritage Committee meeting to present the outcome statement of the forum before the beginning of the process of examining the State of Conservation of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage list. Their statement conveys to the Committee an overview of achievements of the first 50 years of implementation of the World Heritage Convention and expresses needs and challenges ahead from managers’ point of view.  

In the afternoon, the Site Managers’ and Young Professionals’ fora will convene to discuss meaningful youth engagement in caring for World Heritage properties, using global case studies as inspiration.   

On 13 September 2023, the forum will travel to AlUla to visit the World Heritage site of Hegra Archaeological Site (al-Hijr / Madā ͐ in Ṣāliḥ) and the site of Jabal Ikmah inscribed on the Memory of the World Register. Participants will meet the management team of the Royal Commission of AlUla to see firsthand the management of these sites.  

The third day of the forum will leave participants with a thorough understanding of our newest tools – Enhancing our Heritage Toolkit 2.0 and Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context – and later takes participants on an excursion to World Heritage site of At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah in Riyadh. 

The final day’s schedule emphasizes need-to-know recent developments in World Heritage, from the collection of case studies to the creation of new resources and the need for pertinent and cross-sectoral collaborations. 

Throughout the forum, participants will have the opportunity to follow the live working sessions of the World Heritage Committee to better understand the procedures behind the Committee’s decisions and the role of multiple actors involved in these processes, including the Advisory Bodies, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the States Parties of the Committee.  

The World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum is a flagship capacity-building network under the framework of the World Heritage Convention. This year’s forum is organized by the Heritage Commission of the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, ICCROM and IUCN through their joint World Heritage Leadership programme, and is implemented in collaboration with ICOMOS.