The UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust (NFiT) co-operation to support the World Heritage Centre was established in 2001 by the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences with the aim of reinforcing the implementation of the 1972 "Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage". Under this Funds-in-Trust arrangement the Government of the Netherlands made available an amount of €1.8 million over a period of four years (2001-2004). In 2004, the NFiT Co-operation Agreement was extended for the period 2005-2008.
Projects and programmes under the 2005-2008 NFiT cooperation are structured according to the Strategic Objectives adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2002 (the 4Cs), and in pursuance of regional and thematic balances.
Structure according to 2002 Strategic Objectives:
- Credibility: Technical assistance to Tentative List and Nomination preparations, primarily in under-represented regions, and Thematic Studies and Expert Meetings in particular on under-represented categories of heritage;
- Conservation: Technical assistance to preparation of Conservation Management Plans, and to projects of Sustainable Development of inscribed properties and sites, in particular in under-represented regions of the world;
- Capacity Building : Support to Training Seminars and National Workshops, Technical Assistance to Professional and Institutional Building;
- Communication: Dissemination of information, education, public awareness raising, sites presentation;
- Overarching Strategic Objective - Improving the Framework for Implementation of the WH Convention : Support to the World Heritage Centre as Secretariat to the World Heritage Convention and WH Committee.
Furthermore, under the NFiT special attention will be reserved for the category of mutual heritage or common cultural heritage: the heritage that is perceived by the Netherlands and other countries or regions concerned as common cultural heritage. This heritage extends beyond the remnants in former colonies and could include cultural properties originating from other international ventures by the Netherlands as well.
Under this Funds-in-Trust arrangement, no restrictions are applied to allocating funds to particular regions of the world or to the nationality of consultants to be used for missions or implementation of projects. As a result of this relative freedom, over the past four years a fairly equal distribution of projects and sites that were selected for sponsoring has taken place over the regions of Africa, Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean.