A regional meeting for strengthening the role of local communities in the management and conservation of World Heritage sites in the Arab States will be held at the Banc d'Arguin National Park (PNBA) in Mauritania from 27 to 29 March 2016.The meeting will be organized by the World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Office for Maghreb in Rabat, in collaboration with the PNBA.

Within the framework of the implementation of the Global Strategy of the World Heritage Convention "2012-2022" aiming to link the conservation and sustainable management of World Heritage properties to local communities and the implementation of the Policy Document for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention, this meeting aims to strengthen active and effective participation of local communities in the management, promotion and protection of cultural and natural properties in a development perspective.

During this meeting, several examples of management systems practiced in the Arab region will be studied from the point of view of the approach focused on local communities in order to optimize the role of local communities and their active participation, taking into consideration their needs.

This meeting will bring together heritage professionals and representatives from various sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in the Arab States as well as a group of experts to share experiences on the involvement of local communities and explore way forward. Participants will benefit from real proposals related to each example studied to develop sustainable management systems that integrated local communities as key partners.

The World Heritage properties should not be kept frozen; it is important to understand that a sustainable and controlled development will ensure a decent standard of living and is adapted to local communities. In this sense the experts and participants will discuss the role to be played by communities in the development of their sites, notably through cultural activities and sustainable tourism. Participants will also benefit, during a working day in the Banc d'Arguin National Park, from a training on participatory management process in contact with local communities.

The results and recommendations of this meeting will be translated into a regional action plan to improve the inclusion of local communities and strengthen their position as a major player in the management and protection of World Heritage sites in the Arab world.