Managers of natural World Heritage sites in Africa met with national coordinators of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Small Grants Programme from several African countries in Limbe, Cameroon from 10 to 14 February to discuss how to involve local communities in the conservation of World Heritage sites. This workshop is part of UNESCO’s Africa Nature Programme, which aims to improve the conservation of natural World Heritage sites in Africa through targeted capacity building, sharing of knowledge and experiences.

The workshop was jointly organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the Regional UNESCO Office in Yaounde with the financial support of the Governments of the Netherlands and Spain. Participants tested the draft tool kit to encourage the participation of local communities in the conservation of natural World Heritage sites. This tool kit is based on 12 years of experience in the "Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation" (COMPACT) programme, implemented in partnership with the UNDP Small Grants Programme, the United Nations Foundation (UNF) initiative, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the World Heritage Centre.

During the past 12 years, COMPACT (https://www.sgp.undp.org/images/Compact_Report_WEB_flat.pdf) tested an innovative grant model to involve local communities and indigenous people in the conservation and shared governance of natural World Heritage sites, and thereby demonstrated how community initiatives can greatly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in protected areas. A new brochure featuring the tool kit will contain COMPACT’s rich experience and the lessons learned for natural World Heritage sites in Africa and around the world.

The workshop brought together 5 World Heritage sites managers from francophone countries in Central and West Africa, including the Sangha Trinational in Cameroon, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dja Wildlife Reserve in Cameroon, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve in Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire, Tai National Park in Cote d'Ivoire, and Park W in Niger. The local coordinator of COMPACT in Senegal also participated, as well as the national coordinators of the UNDP Small Grants Programme in 7 countries (Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Madagascar and Niger), UNDP / New York, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as well as the World Heritage Centre and the Regional UNESCO Office in Yaounde.

The workshop helped formulate relevant recommendations to improve the content of the brochure. Particular emphasis was placed onthe need to create synergies between the approaches developed in the framework of the "Enhancing our Heritage" toolkit[UN1]  and the COMPACT methodology. Participants also suggested that guidance on sustainable financing mechanisms should be included in the tool kit..

This workshop was an opportunity for managers of World Heritage sites and Small Grants Programme coordinators to share their experiences and recognize the relevance of working together in the future to enhance the added value of projects relating to the involvement of local communities in the conservation of World Heritage sites.

The new brochure for the tool kit was also tested in September 2013 during the workshop in Mount Kenya for English-speaking African participants. It will be published during the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2014.