Aim and Objectives

The main objectives of the meeting are to:

  1. Review the provisions on buffer zones and boundaries in the Operational Guidelines;
  2. Review case studies of World Heritage properties, natural, cultural and cultural landscape sites to be presented to the workshop;
  3. Review background papers by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies as well as information analyzed through the Retrospective Inventory Project;
  4. Compile specific recommendations from the working groups at the Workshop and a draft decision for the 32nd Session of the World Heritage Committee.

The results of the meeting will be presented to the 32nd World Heritage Committee Session in 2008 in Quebec, Canada. A report documenting the proceedings of the meeting will be published.

Background and contents

A buffer zone serves to provide an additional layer of protection to a World Heritage property. The concept of a buffer zone was first included in the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in 1977. In the most current version of the Operational Guidelines of 2005 the inclusion of a buffer zone into a nomination of a site to the World Heritage List is strongly recommended but not mandatory.

Many World Heritage properties face problems that directly or indirectly derive from the situation of their buffer zone. New constructions within a buffer zone may have an impact on the World Heritage property and could threaten its Outstanding Universal Value; a different legal status of a buffer zone could also impact the conservation, the protection or management plan of a site.

This expert meeting will implement Decision 30 COM 9 by the 30th session of the World Heritage Committee. The discussion will focus on problems and best practices concerning buffer zones and issues related to the integrity of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The outcome of the meeting, including proposals of modifications to the Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention (Version 2005) regarding definition and management of buffer zones, as well as conditions of integrity, will be presented to the 32nd session of the Committee (Québec, July 2008). The discussion will be based on case studies (of natural sites, cultural sites, mixed sites, and cultural landscapes) as well as on the results of studies undertaken in the framework of the Retrospective Inventory, Periodic Reporting and State of conservation processes.

Experts and site managers from States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, representatives from the Advisory Bodies to the Convention IUCN, ICOMOS, ICCROM, representatives of related Conventions and programmes (RAMSAR, MAB) as well as representatives of UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre will participate in the meeting.


The working languages of the meeting are French and English. There will be an interpretation service in both languages.


The meeting is organized under the auspices of UNESCO by: The Swiss Federal Office for CultureThe Swiss Federal Office for EnvironmentThe Israel National Commission for UNESCO.