On 6 May 2020, Dr Mechtild Rössler, Director of the World Heritage Centre, is launching the UNESCO publication Empowering Youth for Heritage. Dedicated to the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative (WHV), it kick-starts a series of Webinars to support and build the capacities of the WHV-implementing organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This publication provides a retrospective of the first 10 years of the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative, to increase its visibility and sustainability and support the organizations committed to its values.
From its humble beginnings in 2008, WHV has developed into a rich and diverse endeavour involving the remarkable work of organizations, young volunteers, and communities mobilized around heritage conservation. With each passing year, the Initiative increases its impact multifold, through the hundreds of action camps organized across the globe, involving thousands of volunteers.
The publication traces the journey of the Initiative, which started with just 12 action camps involving 153 volunteers in 2008. By the end of 2017 it had implemented a total of 341 action camps at 138 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List or Tentative Lists in 60 countries, involving 110 organizations and more than 5,000 volunteers. It not only details the action camps and activities implemented by each organization, along with their highlights and achievements, but also discusses the challenges faced by the organizations in heritage conservation. It also identifies best practices from each of the regions, delving deeper into their promotion of youth participation and the lessons learnt.
This publication also highlights the impact that the rich hands-on and heritage-focused activities have on young people and how this intercultural learning experience influences their development on a personal, societal, and heritage level.
Through this publication, we celebrate the outstanding achievements of the WHV Initiative – the commitment and engagement of the organizations, coordinating partners, institutions and volunteers towards preserving our heritage beyond territories and boundaries, while paving the way for engaging with new organizations, institutions and volunteers in the years ahead.
The World Heritage Volunteers Initiative is organized in the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, led by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) in collaboration with the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS), European Heritage Volunteers (as a branch of Open Houses) and Better World.