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France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement (CFU)

Whether in the form of natural sites, geological features, valuable flora and fauna, historical monuments, archaeological sites, urban or rural landscapes, roads or sites of historical significance, the interest in the world's heritage is steadily increasing. At the same time, there is a widespread concern for the conservation of these sites. Issues concerning, the role of heritage in today's world, the identification and empowerment of the custodians and heritage, have become more complex. Heritage can be used by people to outline their identity and values, and therefore, as a way to cope up with the rapid socio-economic changes in the present day world. Furthermore, it can be a means towards achieving sustainable development, and can be included in the challenging modernization processes.

UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world that is considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. The Government of France as one of UNESCO's Member states has been actively involved in terms of heritage conservation and policies, in promoting and facilitating the conservation of heritage through technical and financial contributions, and as part of their interest in heritage and active cultural policy. 

The principles of the agreement 

Signed in 1997, the Co-operation Agreement between UNESCO and the Government of France for the protection and enhancement of the monumental, urban and natural heritage was established to enhance understanding of cultural and natural heritage, to encourage the integration of the preservation of heritage in urban and territorial development projects, and to ensure the inclusion of a social element to heritage conservation.

The France - UNESCO Cooperation Agreement between France and UNESCO, the first bilateral agreement with the support of UNESCO on heritage issues, gives this collaboration, a new approach to international cooperation.

Lever Effect

Over the last 15 years approximately 100 projects have been undertaken in more than 50 countries throughout the world. With a budget of approximately 3.7 million euros UNESCO has been able to mobilize more than 18 million euros in the framework of the France-UNESCO cooperation agreement.

For numerous projects, the CFU provided minimal financial input but essentially a qualitative one, as this seed money enabled the mobilization of important donors such as the French Development Agency, European Union and the World Bank.


  • Contribute to the World Heritage Global Strategy while following the strategic objectives of the World Heritage Committee (5 C's) to develop a more representative and balanced World Heritage List, and to promote UNESCO's strategy towards culture and development and its commitment towards the objectives of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
  • Serve as a leverage for capacity building, focusing on local communities and promote long-term support and implement projects focusing on sustainable economic and social development
  • Provide impetus for developing city to city and site to site partnerships and promote decentralized co-operation for heritage protection involving regional or local French authorities, and help foster international aid and co-operation programmes.

A working tool

The Agreement supports UNESCO's actions to protect and enhance cultural and natural heritage through technical and financial aid that draws on France's acknowledged expertise in heritage conservation. The knowledge and skills in France was developed over many years of experience and specialized educational and training programmes. Consequently France can put the skills of a wide variety of professionals and experts - including researchers, historians, archaeologists, architects, curators, urban planners, restoration professionals, legal experts and economists - at UNESCO's disposal, thus contributing to its fieldwork in the countries that request its assistance.

 Our Activities - Technical Assistance and support to state parties

  • Credibility, Protection, Conservation and Management of World Heritage
  • Capacity Building, Governance focusing on State Parties and Local communities
  • Thematic programmes and projects
  • Communication and Publications

 Partners Links

Partnerships / Activities
  • Art and Culture
  • Built / Monumental Heritage
  • Community Development
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Education and Youth
  • Environmental Conservation
  • Immaterial Heritage (oral traditions)
  • Other