From April to May 2017, the World Heritage Centre carried out a Testing Phase of the revised format of the Periodic Reporting questionnaire. Over 40 State Parties volunteered to test the revised questionnaire for content and usability. Feedback collected during this exercise is being used in the finalization of the revised questionnaire, prior to the presentation of its format to the World Heritage Committee during its 41st session (2-12 July 2017, Kraków, Poland).

Periodic Reporting provides an assessment of the application of the World Heritage Convention by States Parties. It also provides updated information about World Heritage properties to record possible changes in their state of conservation. Periodic Reports are prepared on a regional basis and are examined by the World Heritage Committee on a pre-established schedule based on a six-year cycle.

The World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015), decided to suspend the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting and launch a two-year Periodic Reporting Reflection Period from 2015-2017. Under the coordination of the World Heritage Centre, an Expert Group, comprised of cultural and natural heritage experts, representatives from the Advisory Bodies (ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN) and the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, was entrusted with drafting an updated format of the questionnaire and developing proposals for improving the process, relevance, analysis and use of data. The revised and streamlined questionnaire takes into account feedback received from the Periodic Reporting Reflection Survey (carried out in November 2015) to which over 75 States Parties replied.

A large number of changes and improvements have now been introduced. For example, themes relevant to current World Heritage concerns such as Sustainable Development and synergies with other cultural and biodiversity-related conventions have been integrated and specific data input and gathering has been facilitated through questions tailored to the needs of different types of sites (natural, cultural, mixed sites as well as transnational and transboundary). The new focus on synergies encompasses other cultural and biodiversity-related UNESCO conventions and programmes, such as the 1954 Hague Convention and its Second Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity, UNESCO Global Geoparks and the Man and Biosphere Programme.

A large amount of constructive feedback was received during the Testing Phase and is now being used by the World Heritage Centre in the final phase of development. An updated format of the questionnaire and proposals for improving the process, relevance, analysis and use of data, as well as a proposal for a revised version of Chapter V (Periodic Reporting on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention) and Annex 7 (Format for the Periodic Reporting of the application of the World Heritage Convention) of the Operational Guidelines will be presented to the World Heritage Committee in July 2017.