Within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, the World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) Initiative was launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) to mobilise and involve young people and youth organizations in World Heritage preservation and promotion.
Since then, over 3500 volunteers have participated, there have been 219 Action camps taking place in 46 countries and with over 50 participating local organizations, NGOs and governmental authorities.
Participation in the 2016 World Heritage Volunteers campaign “Together for Heritage” has also been strong and illustrates the global success of the World Heritage Volunteers initiative, now running for the ninth consecutive year to mobilize youth to preserve and promote World Heritage by reaching out to their peers and their communities.
In 2016 volunteers from around the world have participated in 58 youth action camps taking place throughout the world at 53 World Heritage properties or sites inscribed on the Tentative List of World Heritage from 35 countries and implemented by various local youth organizations, NGOs or public authorities in cooperation with other stakeholders such as schools, universities, public and private institutions, and site management authorities.
The WHV campaign in 2016 globally and here in Qatar, has been a great opportunity for volunteers to immerse themselves in learning about the day-to-day life in a World Heritage property, to acquire basic preservation and conservation skills, and to engage in intercultural exchanges with local communities. The programme also aims to make a substantive contribution to conservation at the various sites involved in campaign.
The project at Qatar’s World Heritage property – Al Zubarah - was organized locally by Qatar Museums, Division of Heritage, and aimed at contributing to archeological studies and research on the site, and highlighting the importance of preservation of the architectural remains in the excavated areas of the property.
There were many achievements of this year’s campaign at Zubarah in this regard, most notably in the area of architectural conservation of parts of the site, further research, excavation, and interpretation of the site, as well as the overall spirit and feeling created by working together for a common cause within the framework of World Heritage, which is, indeed, the essence of the programme.
The educational and awareness-raising aspect of heritage preservation is extremely important and the UNESCO Office in Doha works with Qatar and all countries within the GCC to conduct training, organize workshops, seminars and conferences on the various topics of importance within the region including World Heritage, underwater heritage, prevention of illegal traffic of antiquities, intangible heritage and cultural and creative industries amongst others.
In recent weeks UNESCO has promoted understanding and discussion concerning World Heritage issues through support for Qatar Museums’ WHV initiative in Qatar and participation in their training programme for tour guides centered on Al Zubarah, as well as educating students at Stenden University in Doha on World Heritage. The Office is also organizing an International Conference concerning intercultural dialogue and cultural industries from 6-8 December 2016 in association with the Katara Cultural Village.