On 5 December 2017, the World Heritage Centre, Europe and North-America Unit organized a meeting on Heritage and Environmental Impact Assessment (HIA/EIA) at UNESCO Headquarters, with the support of the French Ministry of Ecology. It was a follow up to Decision 39 COM 7.11 on HIA and EIAs adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015) and to the side events organized on the occasion of the 20th session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee (Istanbul, 2016).

The objectives of this one-day meeting on HIAs and EIAs were to assess and identify decision-making processes, methodology, implementation frameworks and practices, as well as to identify gaps within the general process.

Representatives from the advisory bodies ICCROM, ICOMOS and IUCN, the Universities of Wiesbaden and Zagreb, the French World Heritage Site Managers Association, and government experts from Germany and France gathered to discuss and share experiences concerning impact assessments. The participants addressed the challenges in achieving a balance between conservation of the Outstanding Universal Values of World Heritage and national values of heritage and development activities.

The main outcome was the need to shift from a preventive approach to a predictive approach regarding impact assessments and focus on management and governance, leading to integrating impact assessments upstream and in spatial planning tools.

Feedback from the meeting will be used to review and further develop existing tools and develop a road map and outline of capacity-building initiatives.