In parallel to the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC), in close collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), organised an online side event, “Looking into the future: Highlights of the Regional Action Plan for Africa (2021 – 2027)” on 30 July. The event reflected upon the objectives and challenges foreseen in the implementation of the approved Action Plan (2021-2027) for Africa, as a result of the report of the Third Cycle of the Periodic Reporting exercise in the region.
The Action Plan aims at five strategic objectives:
- Strengthen the representativity and credibility of the World Heritage List in Africa;
- Improve conservation, effective management and promotion of African World Heritage;
- Develop capacity for conservation, management and promotion of cultural and natural heritage;
- Enhance education, communication and awareness-raising of World Heritage in the region;
- Strengthen community and stakeholder engagement for effective management of World Heritage Properties.
In her opening remarks, the Director of the UNESCO WHC, Dr Mechtild Rössler, lauded the remarkable achievement made and urged all parties involved in the conservation and protection of heritage in Africa to take a proactive role in implementing the above strategic objectives towards a more confidently represented and empowered Africa.
Mr Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the AWHF, speaking on behalf of Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, chairperson of the AWHF, congratulated African States Parties for achieving 100%. Recalling that the AWHF is an important outcome of the first Periodic Reporting Cycle of 2001, Mr Varissou urged all actors, in the spirit of continued collaboration, to commit on the vision of having all African countries represented on the World Heritage List by 2027.
Ms Chantal Shalukoma, the site manager of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, moderated the rubric 'Highlights of the Regional Action Plan for Africa (2021‐2027)', on which a comprehensive presentation on Action Plan was delivered by Ms Musawa Hamusonde, on behalf of the coordination team. Then, Ms Guiomar Alonso Cano, Dakar UNESCO Regional Office for West Africa, introduced the key areas of intervention and highlighted the funding needed to implement the six-year Action Plan. According to Ms Alonso Cano, more than USD 43 million will be required to accomplish the five strategic objectives through the twenty-six actions. As the implementation of Action Plan is made possible by the generous contributions of international donors, the distinguished representatives of the Governments of China, Japan, Norway and Oman marked their presence with words of congratulations and hope.
In closing the side event, the distinguished Ambassadors of South Africa and Mali insisted on the importance of enhancing representativity of Africa on the World Heritage List. On behalf of Mr Weber Ndoro, Director-General of ICCROM, Mr Espera Donouvossi, delivered the final remarks on the need to enhance capacity-building initiatives in African countries.