As a contribution to the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012, Norway will host an interregional conference on issues, experiences and challenges linked to the theme of the year: "World Heritage and Sustainable Development: The Role of Local Communities". The Conference will take place in Røros 14-16 May 2012 .
World Heritage communities are confronted on a daily basis by challenges and issues of concern that may be seen as choices between development and conservation. Some of these issues are more threatening than others like large infrastructure projects, mining, oil exploitation, natural disasters, climate change or armed conflicts. Other challenges are the incremental changes of a World Heritage property imposed by lack of involvement and interest by the local communities.
Involvement of communities is indispensable to the conservation of World Heritage Properties, especially those that depend on the transmission of values and traditional ways of living. Lack of communication, comprehension and collaboration between local communities and the authorities might become key obstacles to sustainable conservation of a World Heritage property as well as to development for the local community. This might in turn lead to conflicts and become threats to democratic processes as well as to the safeguarding of the World Heritage.
The international conference is organized by the Norvegian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the Directorate for Cultural Heritage, the Directorate for Nature Management and the National Commission for UNESCO.