Introductory remarks

by Ms Berit Lein, Chair of the Expert meeting, Assistant Director-General, Department of Nature Conservation and Spatial Planning, Directorate for Nature Management

You will be formally welcomed to the meeting soon, but I would like to say I am pleased to chair this meeting today, and that I look forward to useful presentations and good discussions on World Heritage and the Arctic.

My responsibilities and experiences include implementation and follow up of the World Heritage Convention (member of the Norwegian delegation to the Committee from 2003 – 2007), and development and implementation of the Arctic Council’s CAFF program since 1993.
It is nice for me personally to see these areas of work come together at this meeting.

You all know that there is a desire in the World Heritage Convention to strengthen work in the Arctic, and to increase representation of Arctic natural and cultural heritage. You may also know that Norway in the programme for its 2006 – 2008 chairmanship in the Arctic Council states wants a dialogue with the World Heritage Convention and to find promising opportunities for co-operation on management and on nomination.

I was therefore very happy that Ms Mechtild Rössler from the World Heritage Centre yesterday was able to make a presentation to the Arctic Council on the World Heritage Convention and the Arctic.
I understand that you were not given very much time, but that you did get supportive comments afterwards. I was also glad to hear that the Norwegian Arctic Official said that he hopes this will be a good starting point for the dialogue Norway wants to see between World Heritage and the Arctic Council.

It is encouraging to see that we have all the eight Arctic countries represented here, as well as representatives from the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and from key institutions working with us on securing Arctic natural and cultural heritage. I would also like to thank the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for inviting us to this meeting, the Nordic World Heritage Foundation for arranging the meeting, and the Prince Albert II Foundation for sponsoring the meeting.

This opening session will include welcoming remarks from these three institutions, a background presentation from the World Heritage Centre, and statements from ICOMOS and IUCN as Advisory Bodies to the WHC.

I would also like to introduce the session rapporteur, Mr Rolf Löfgren, who represents Sweden at the meeting and who works with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

It is then my pleasure to hand over to Ms Mechtild Rössler, Chief of Europe and North America Section of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris, who will give welcoming remarks from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.