Work began on a new World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy in 2009 with the support of the Government of Switzerland.
Preliminary research clarified the existence of two paradigm shifts. One was the shift in emphasis from training to capacity building. In addition to improving the skills and abilities of professionals, there was also a need to improve institutional capacities and create more dynamic relationships with communities. This meant expanding target audiences to include not just practitioners, but also institutions, communities, and networks. Each of these targets has different learning needs, as they play different parts in the conservation process.
The second major shift was an understanding that the culture and nature sectors must collaborate more closely within the framework of the World Heritage Convention. While the Convention covers both kinds of heritage, in practice there had not been much effort to create opportunities to learn from each other.
The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy, approved at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris, focused on building capacity regarding the credibility of the World Heritage List, improving conservation practice and communication, and bringing the community into World Heritage processes. The strategy covers three levels of implementation. International and regional level activities are foreseen, and individual States Parties are urged to develop national capacity building strategies to meet their specific needs. The strategy is implemented using a variety of capacity building providers at the international, region, national, and local levels. Regional strategies are also to be developed by the UNESCO Category 2 Centres located in various regions. The strategy further calls for materials to be developed in many languages to promote use by local professionals and communities.
At the international level, ICCROM, the other Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre have developed activities to implement parts of the strategy. These include the regional training workshops on aspects of the World Heritage Convention, carried out to boost numbers of regional experts participating in World Heritage-related missions of the Advisory Bodies. In this way, Advisory Body networks were strengthened. Participants so trained are also being sent on Evaluation and Reactive Monitoring missions.
Key resource materials are also being translated into more languages. All of the resource manuals have been translated into English, French, and Spanish, while selected resources are now in Arabic, Portuguese, German, and Russian.
As the 2011 World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy marked its 10th anniversary, at its 43rd Session, the World Heritage Committee requested ICCROM to carry out a results-based evaluation of the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS), consulting Category 2 Centres and other capacity building partners, for examination by the Committee at its 45th session in 2021 (Decision 43 COM 6), pending the provision of additional funding to undertake the evaluation. However additional funds were not allocated by the Committee to facilitate a full-fledged evaluation of the WHCBS.
Although there are limitations of the scope due to lack of funding, ICCROM instead has conducted an in-house, desk-based internal review to provide a preliminary overview of the implementation of the Strategy. At this preliminary stage, this review lays the groundwork and sets the tone for a much detailed and in depth evaluation, should it take place with the appropriate funding. The internal review is a strictly document-based desk review and it analyses the implementation of the Strategy at international and regional levels. It has been developed based on the data extracted from working documents and reports submitted by the Advisory Bodies and the Category 2 Centers to the Committee since the adoption of the Strategy. It is important to note that these documents do not provide hard statistical data about the individual actions of any of the actors analyzed in the internal review, but rather provide an overview of the actions and strategies taken by each institution on an annual basis. ICCROM has adopted an analytical approach and methodology to provide an overarching view of the progress of the WHCBS.