The Business Skills for World Heritage Programme, a collaboration between international environmental charity Earthwatch, global energy company Shell and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, was kicked off with a training course held in Borneo from 19th to 29th October 2009. The programme seeks to improve the management effectiveness of World Heritage Sites using business planning techniques.
Representatives from three natural World Heritage sites, all in South-east Asia, were each partnered with a Shell employee, with whom they attended the training at the Earthwatch research and learning centre in the jungles of Malaysian Borneo. The representatives were from Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Subterreanean River National Park in the Philippines and Kinabalu Park, Malaysia.
This five-year programme, funded by Shell and implemented by Earthwatch, an internationally recognized conservation and training organization, is based on the successful Business Planning for Natural World Heritage Site Managers pilot project previously carried out between Shell Foundation and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Simon Reid, Partnership Manager at Earthwatch explains, "What we are doing here is bringing together people and organizations with diverse sets of skills and experiences to share their knowledge and develop best practice. This programme will help to ensure that some of these most beautiful and threatened places on Earth face a safer future."
One participant from Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) in Indonesia, Uus Susanto, commented that "our Shell mentor has really helped me understand the business planning process." Monica Rahmaningsih, a colleague said, "If our action plan works, then UKNP will be the first national park in Indonesia with a business plan."
Their sentiments were shared by participants from the other sites. James Mendosa, Park Director for Puerto Princesa Subterreanean River in the Philippines, stated that "a business plan is important because it will allow our organization to manage financial matters more efficiently," whilst Dr Maklarin Lakim, a senior manager from Sabah Parks in Malaysia, commented that "continuity of this programme is vital for World Heritage sites worldwide."
"Conducting training sessions in the jungle has been a challenging, yet strangely enough life enriching experience," said Szu Li Lim. "Going through this with my World Heritage site team has helped develop our relationship to a level which a traditional method of training may not have achieved."
The relationship between the park staff and their mentor from Shell will continue for one year, to ensure that their newly acquired skills are successfully transferred to the management of their World Heritage site.
Mylene Santos, another participant, concluded, "The programme proves that more things may be done through collaboration. I look forward to seeing the World Heritage sites reap the benefits of the training in the years to come."