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


4    Policies Regarding CAPACITY-BUILDING

Capacity-building – whether of practitioners, institutions or communities and networks – is seen as a form of people-centred change that entails working with groups of individuals to achieve improvements in approaches to managing heritage.

Capacity-building in the World Heritage framework can encompass the strengthening of knowledge, abilities, skills and behaviour of people with direct responsibilities for heritage conservation and management. It can improve institutional structures and processes through empowering decision-makers and policy-makers, and can introduce a more dynamic relationship between heritage and its context and, in turn, greater reciprocal benefits by using a more inclusive approach, and in a way that provides a sustainable approach to missions and goals.

The Capacity-Building theme includes policy related to Capacity-Building for the Convention, including the Capacity Building Strategy.

4.1    General capacity-building policies

World Heritage Convention

Article 5

“To ensure that effective and active measures are taken for the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage situated on its territory, each State Party to this Convention shall endeavor, in so far as possible, and as appropriate for each country: (…)

(e) to foster the establishment or development of national or regional centres for training in the protection, conservation and presentation of the cultural and natural heritage and to encourage scientific research in this field."

Policy for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective Into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention
11. “The integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention will require the building of necessary capacities among practitioners, institutions, concerned communities and networks, across a wide interdisciplinary and inter-sectorial spectrum (…)”.
WHC-01/CONF.208/14 Global Training Strategy for World Cultural and Natural Heritage
“C. Principles and Operational Framework for Training

1. Training is a highly cost-effective means to achieve Committee objectives

2. Training should be integrated into the World Heritage planning framework.”
Operational Guidelines

Paragraph 211

“The objectives [of Educational Programmes] are:

a) to enhance capacity-building and research;

b) to raise the general public’s awareness, understanding and appreciation of the need to preserve cultural and natural heritage;

c) to enhance the function of World Heritage in the life of the community; and

d) to increase the participation of local and national populations in the protection and presentation of heritage.”

Paragraph 212

“The Committee seeks to develop capacity-building within the States Parties in conformity with its Strategic Objectives.”

Paragraph 213

“Recognizing the high level of skills and multidisciplinary approach necessary for the protection, conservation, and presentation of the World Heritage, the Committee has adopted a Global Training Strategy for World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The primary goal of the Global Training Strategy is to ensure that necessary skills are developed by a wide range of actors for better implementation of the Convention (…).”

Paragraph 214

“States Parties are encouraged to ensure that their professionals and specialists at all levels are adequately trained. To this end, States Parties are encouraged to develop national training strategies and include regional co-operation for training as part of their strategies.”
Case Law

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee requests States Parties to undertake capacity-building activities for all local stakeholders concerned to raise awareness of World Heritage management requirements (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).[1]

The World Heritage Committee encourages States Parties to implement initiatives for capacity building and transmission of traditional know-how for the sustainable development and use of the property (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).[2]

4.2    Global capacity-building strategy

World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy

3. “[The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy] proposes a paradigm shift to step beyond conventional training to embrace a capacity building approach. Current needs demonstrate that the audience for capacity building for World Heritage conservation and management activities is wide, diverse and growing. Creating and strengthening capacities of institutions and of networks that link the heritage sector to wider communities is as much a priority as the training of individual practitioners. Capacities reside on practitioners, institutions, and communities and networks, which are the target audiences for capacity building at the Strategy (…). Capacity building – whether of practitioners, institutions or communities and networks- is seen as a form of people-centered change that entails working with groups of individuals to achieve improvements in approaches to managing cultural and natural heritage (…). Capacity building should be understood as the most cost-effective means by which World Heritage Committee can protect the Outstanding Universal Value and other values of World Heritage properties and ensure a mutually beneficial dynamic between heritage and society”.

4. “[The Strategy also proposes a paradigm shift from] treating natural and cultural heritage actors separately to the realization that capacity building actions can be strengthened by creating joint opportunities (…).”

7. “Vision. We envisage a world where practitioners, institutions, communities and networks are enlightened, capable and closely aligned in their work to protect World Heritage, and heritage in general, and to give it a positive role in the life of communities. Practitioners will be able to better protect and manage World Heritage. Institutions will be capable of providing support for effective conservation and management through favorable legislation and policies, establishing a more effective administrative set-up and providing financial and human resources for heritage protection. Communities and networks will be aware of the importance of heritage and support its conservation”.

9. “Key Goals and Summary Action Plan on World Heritage Capacity Building. The Capacity Building Strategy is organized according to the “5Cs” that represent the established strategic directions of the World Heritage Convention. The table below sets out the 9 main goals of the Strategy, the principal actions that are recommended in relation to each, and the main audience in terms of practitioners, institutions and communities”.

10. “The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy foresees each UNESCO region developing a regional capacity building strategy and associated programmes for strengthening capacities at the regional level. This strategy will be different for each region in order to respond to the specific needs and situation in each of the regions.”

11. “National Capacity Building Strategies. It would also be useful for interested State Parties to develop national capacity building strategies. These strategies can use a similar methodology as the one at the regional level, and can also be carried out at the time of the preparation and analysis of the Periodic Reporting questionnaires. This exercise will allow an individual State Party to better understand specific national and property based capacity building needs. The State Party should also investigate what national, regional, and international capacity building institutions exist that can assist in the development of national and local capacities. These national capacity building strategies could be very useful for State Parties to be able to analyze the exact human resource needs at national institutions (not just for heritage organizations, but also related institutions dealing with tourism, planning, development, etc). These national strategies would also be best placed to ensure that there is capacity building for other relevant stakeholders at the level of World Heritage properties and in particular at the level of local communities. In certain instances, it may be useful for more than one country to work on a joint strategy. The World Heritage Centre, Advisory Bodies, and other capacity building providers should provide necessary technical support and facilitation to States Parties wishing to develop national strategies”.

ANNEX I. List of documents and texts

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage

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

OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)

WHC-11/35.COM/9B Presentation and adoption of the World Heritage strategy for capacity building

WHC-01/CONF.208/14 Progress Report on the Global Training Strategy

Decision 33COM 7B.29 Western Caucasus (Russian Federation) (N 900)

Decision 36COM 7B.17 Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (Thailand) (N 590)

Decision 36COM 7B.45 Aapravasi Ghat (Mauritius) (C 1227)

Decision 36COM 7B.61 Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (India) (C1056 rev)

Decision 38COM 7A.37 Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 63)

Decision 40COM 7A.5 Coro and its Port (Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of) (C 658)

Decision 41COM 7A.27 Coro and its Port (Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of) (C 658)





[1] See for example Decisions 33COM 7B.29, 36COM 7B.17, 36COM 7B.45, 36COM 7B.61, 38COM 7A.37.

[2] See for example Decisions 40COM 7A.5, 41COM 7A.27.