ICCROM has signed a six-year partnership project – World Heritage Leadership – with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii, United States.  Made possible with generous funding from Norway, the partnership project marks new steps to improve nature-culture conservation practice carried out through the World Heritage Convention, and aims to support the contribution of World Heritage sites to sustainable development.

World Heritage Leadership aims to build the skills of practitioners working through the World Heritage Convention.  It takes into account the totality of conservation practice, so that World Heritage can provide leadership to achieve innovation and excellence within the conservation sector. This focus beyond World Heritage marks a new approach to the long-standing partnership between ICCROM and IUCN, two advisory bodies on cultural and natural World Heritage respectively.

The World Heritage Leadership programme will integrate nature and culture from the outset, centring on areas where World Heritage has the most compelling potential to address pressing challenges, such as climate change and impacts from development.

Five modules make up the programme, including Effective Management: Nature, Culture, and Communities; Resilience; Impact Assessment; Learning Sites; and Leadership Networks. The World Heritage Leadership project is addressed to States Parties, local government, communities and civil society involved in World Heritage conservation and will focus on:

  • Setting and testing leading standards for conserving World Heritage sites, and ensuring their contribution to communities and sustainable development;
  • Providing high-profile advice in several languages on conservation policies and practices, notably by compiling ICCROM and IUCN management manuals into a single new publication;
  • Establishing a network of internationally recognised leadership sites, which will include World Heritage sites demonstrating leading practice, which can provide platforms for learning and skills development;
  • Building international networks between nature and culture practitioners and institutions that link practice on the ground with leadership at international, regional, national and local levels;
  • Providing diverse training events, exchanges and other activities to support the work of both site managers and stakeholders, and the heritage services of States Parties.


The programme has been developed through a process of discussion between ICCROM and IUCN, and draws on the results of a 2015 consultative workshop including ICOMOS, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and representatives of World Heritage stakeholders. From 2016 IUCN and ICCROM aim to adopt a common objective, and a series of shared results and coordinated actions in each of their World Heritage related programmes to achieve this initiative.

The project will be delivered by ICCROM and IUCN in collaboration with ICOMOS and UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, with the support of Norway.