At a high-level forum marking the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment extended its support of the World Heritage Leadership (WHL) Programme, reinforcing its commitment to fostering future leaders of the World Heritage Convention.  

L-R: Webber Ndoro, Aleksander Øren Heen and Grethel Aguilar at the signing ceremony for phase II of the World Heritage Programme in Bergen, Norway. Photo: Helge Skodvin L-R: Webber Ndoro, Aleksander Øren Heen, and Grethel Aguilar at the signing ceremony in Bergen, Norway, for phase two of the World Heritage Leadership Programme.  Photo: Helge Skodvin

The World Heritage Leadership Forum, held in Bergen, Norway, from 21 to 22 September 2022, was jointly organized by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment and the ICCROM-International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Heritage Leadership (WHL) Programme.

The Forum brought together representatives from the three Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee (ICCROM, IUCN and the International Council on Monuments and Sites [ICOMOS]), UNESCO, the World Heritage Category 2 Centres and site managers networks from Africa and the Nordic region. High-level delegates at the event reflected on how capacity building has contributed to the first 50 years of implementation of the World Heritage Convention, and how to strengthen it in the future. 

“Managing World Heritage in the 21st century is a complex task and we need to build our own capacities to do our jobs better,” said ICCROM Director-General Webber Ndoro. “The best way to do that is to learn from each other and support each other, tapping into a global family working together to protect and conserve World Heritage. We extend our deep gratitude to Norway for recognizing the pressing need to continue developing present and future generations’ capacity to care for our precious World Heritage.”

In opening remarks, Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment State Secretary Aleksander Øren Heen said:

“World Heritage properties are global common goods. Norway attaches particular importance to the capacity-building work to ensure that all countries are enabled to preserving and benefitting from their own cultural and natural heritage. Good, long-term management of a nation’s cultural and natural heritage is essential for sustainable development.” 

The World Heritage Leadership Forum served as a platform to harness commitments to enhance heritage capacities at the local, national and international levels through capacity-building efforts; it also highlighted the WHL Programme as a vehicle for more robust collaboration. 

“World Heritage Leadership empowers heritage practitioners across the globe with the tools and capacity to deliver excellence in the management of the planet’s most iconic places,” said Grethel Aguilar, IUCN Deputy Director General. “IUCN is proud to collaborate with ICCROM, and our many partners, on such a valuable initiative for the World Heritage community. We thank sincerely Norway for their continued engagement and support for this vital work.” 

The WHL Programme is designed to shape the future leaders of World Heritage. The capacity-building programme aims to provide the guidance and tools necessary to effectively manage World Heritage and create dynamic networks of knowledge exchange and peer learning. WHL is a collaboration ICCROM, IUCN and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment, in collaboration with UNESCO and ICOMOS. 

The Programme’s first phase (2016-2022) emphasized creating and revising World Heritage resources to provide integrated and structured guidance and tools to managers of World Heritage. These include the recently launched Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context. In the next phase, the Programme will focus on working with national, regional and international actors, institutions and networks to mainstream capacity building across regions and generations. It will focus on strengthening regional networks and multiplying capacity-building efforts in diverse languages and contexts.

Read the ICCROM press release 

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