This document is a partial export of the World Heritage Policy Compendium


1    General Policies Regarding the World Heritage Convention

The World Heritage Convention, adopted in 1972, is a legally binding instrument providing an intergovernmental framework for international cooperation for the identification and conservation of the world's most outstanding natural and cultural properties.

The Convention sets out the duties of States Parties in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. By ratifying the Convention, each country enters in a system of international cooperation to protect the world cultural and natural heritage and pledges to conserve the World Heritage sites situated on its territory. The States Parties are encouraged to integrate the protection of cultural and natural heritage into regional planning programmes, set up staff and services at their sites, undertake scientific and technical conservation research and adopt measures that give this heritage a function in community day-to-day life.

The Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Committee are ICCROM (the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property), ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The General Policies of the Convention theme includes policies related to the overarching framework of the Convention; the links with other standard-setting instruments, cooperation among States and implementation of the Convention at the national level.

1.1    Fundamental World Heritage policies

1.1.1    General

Policy for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective Into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention

1. “(…) [The World Heritage Convention] is an integral part of UNESCO’s overarching mandate to foster equitable sustainable development and to promote peace and security (…)”.

3. “By identifying, protecting, conserving, presenting and transmitting to present and future generations irreplaceable cultural and natural heritage properties of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), the World Heritage Convention, in itself, contributes significantly to sustainable development and the wellbeing of people At the same time, strengthening the three dimensions of sustainable development that are environmental sustainability, inclusive social development, and inclusive economic development, as well as the fostering of peace and security may bring benefits to World Heritage properties and support their OUV, if carefully integrated within their conservation and management systems”.

8. “In applying a sustainable development perspective within the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, States Parties should also recognize the close links and interdependence of biological diversity and local cultures within the socio-ecological systems of many World Heritage properties. These have often developed over time through mutual adaptation between humans and the environment, interacting with and affecting one another in complex ways, and are fundamental components of the resilience of communities. This suggests that any policy aiming to achieve sustainable development will necessarily have to take into consideration the interrelationship of biological diversity with the local cultural context”.

9. “All dimensions of sustainable development should apply to natural, cultural and mixed properties in their diversity. These dimensions are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, with none having predominance over another and each being equally necessary. States Parties should therefore review and reinforce governance frameworks within management systems of World Heritage properties in order to achieve the appropriate balance, integration and harmonization between the protection of OUV and the pursuit of sustainable development objectives. This will include the full respect and participation of all stakeholders and rights holders, including indigenous peoples and local communities, the setting up of effective inter-institutional coordination mechanisms and provisions for the systematic assessment of environmental, social, and economic impacts of all proposed developments, as well as effective monitoring through continuity in data collection against agreed indicators”.

ANNEX I. List of documents and texts

Policy for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (WHC-15/20.GA/INF.13)