World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme
For the past 40 years the UNESCO World Heritage Convention has conserved, protected and presented the Outstanding Universal Value of our shared heritage.World Heritage properties are important travel destinations, that if managed properly, have great potential impact for local economic development and long-term sustainability.The UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme represents a new approach based on dialogue and stakeholder cooperation where planning for tourism and heritage management is integrated at a destination level, the natural and cultural assets are valued and protected, and appropriate tourism developed.
World Heritage and tourism stakeholders share responsibility for conservation of our common cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value and for sustainable development through appropriate tourism management.
Facilitate the management and development of sustainable tourism at World Heritage properties through fostering increased awareness, capacity and balanced participation of all stakeholders in order to protect the properties and their Outstanding Universal Value whilst ensuring that tourism delivers benefits for conservation of the properties’ sustainable development for local communities as well as a quality experience for visitors.
Key elements in realizing the vision and mission
- An interpretation and implementation of the World Heritage Convention that embraces sustainable tourism;
- National, regional and local governments have policies and frameworks that recognise sustainable tourism as an important vehicle for managing their cultural and natural heritage;
- All stakeholders are aware and committed to sustainable development, and have the capacity to manage tourism sustainably;
- Local communities take pride in- and have a sense of responsibility and empowerment towards the World Heritage properties contributing to property conservation and the sustainable management of tourism at the World Heritage destinations;
- The tourism sector values World Heritage and engages in its preservation while ensuring that its activities based at World Heritage properties are responsible, and support social and economic development;
- Visitors understand and gain an appreciation of the meaning of Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage and adopt responsible behaviours.
The five Programme objectives
- Integrate sustainable tourism principles into the mechanisms of the World Heritage Convention.
- Strengthen the enabling environment by advocating policies, strategies, frameworks and tools that support sustainable tourism as an important vehicle for protecting and managing cultural and natural heritage of Outstanding Universal Value.
- Promote broad stakeholder engagement in the planning, development and management of sustainable tourism that follows a destination approach to heritage conservation and focuses on empowering local communities.
- Provide World Heritage stakeholders with the capacity and the tools to manage tourism efficiently, responsibly and sustainably based on the local context and needs.
- Promote quality tourism products and services that encourage responsible behaviour among all stakeholders and foster understanding and appreciation of the concept of Outstanding Universal Value and protection of World Heritage.
In 2011 UNESCO embarked on developing a new World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme. The aim was to create an international framework for the cooperative and coordinated achievement of shared and sustainable outcomes related to tourism at World Heritage properties. The preparatory work undertaken in developing the Programme responded to the decision 34 COM 5F.2of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in Brasilia in 2010, which requested
“the World Heritage Centre to convene a new and inclusive programme on World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism, with a steering group comprising interested States Parties and other relevant stakeholders, and also requests the World Heritage Centre to outline the objectives and approach to the implementation of this programme".
The Steering Group was comprised of States Parties representatives from the six UNESCO Electoral Groups (Germany (I), Slovenia (II), Argentina (III), China (IV), Tanzania (Va), and Lebanon (Vb)), the Director of the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies (IUCN, ICOMOS and ICCROM), the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the Swiss Government as the donor agency.
The Government of Switzerland has provided financial support for specific actions to be undertaken by the Steering Group. To coordinate and support the process, the World Heritage Centre has formed a small Working Group with the support of the Nordic World Heritage Foundation, the Government of Switzerland and the mandated external consulting firm MartinJenkins.
The World Heritage Committee directed that the Programme take into account:
- the recommendations of the evaluation of the concluded tourism programme (WHC-10/34.COM/INF.5F.3)
- the policy orientation which defines the relationship between World Heritage and sustainable tourism that emerged from the workshop Advancing Sustainable Tourism at Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites (Mogao, China, September 2009) (WHC-10/34.COM/INF.5F.1)
Overarching and strategic processes that the new World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme will be aligned with include the Strategic Objectives of the World Heritage Convention (the five C's) (Budapest Declaration 2002), the ongoing Reflections on the Future of the World Heritage Convention (WHC-11/35.COM/12A) and the Strategic Action Plan for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention 2012-2022 (WHC-11/18.GA/11), the Relationship between the World Heritage Convention and Sustainable Development (WHC-10/34.COM/5D), the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHC-10/34.COM/5D), the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List (1994), and the Evaluation of the Global Strategy and PACT initiative (WHC-11/18.GA/8 - 2011).
In addition, the programme development process has been enriched by an outreach to representatives from the main stakeholder groups including the tourism sector, national and local governments, site practitioners and local communities. The programme design was further developed at an Expert Meeting in Sils/Engadine, Switzerland October 2011. In this meeting over 40 experts from 23 countries, representing the relevant stakeholder groups, worked together to identify the overall strategic approach and a prioritised set of key objectives and activities. The proposed Programme was adopted by the World Heritage Committee in 2012 at its 36th session in St Petersburg, Russian Federation.
International Instruments Relating to Sustainable Development and Tourism
Resolutions adopted by the United Nations, charters adopted by ICOMOS, decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee, legal instruments adopted by UNESCO on heritage preservation.
Resolutions adopted by the United Nations
- Report by the Department of Economics and Social Affairs: Tourism and Sustainable Development: The Global Importance of Tourism at the United Nations’ Commission on Sustainable Development 7th Session (1999)
- Resolution A/RES/56/212 and the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism adopted by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (1999)
Charters adopted by ICOMOS
- The ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Charter (1999)
- The ICOMOS Charter for the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (2008)
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee
- Decision (XVII.4-XVII.12) adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 25th Session in Helsinki (2001)
- Decision 33 COM 5A adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th Session in Seville (2009)
- Decision 34 COM 5F.2 adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th Session in Brasilia (2010)
- Decision 36 COM 5E adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th Session in Saint Petersburg (2012)
Legal instruments adopted by UNESCO on heritage preservation in chronological order
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)
- The Recommendation for the Protection of Movable Cultural Property (1978)
- The Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore (1989)
- The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural heritage (2001)
- The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)