5 focus areas
of World Heritage marine sites
We provide essential support – based on scientific data and analysis – to the World Heritage Committee and national governments, so they can monitor and evaluate the state of conservation in World Heritage marine sites.
The Committee uses our annual State of Conservation Reports as the basis for its decisions. Governments use our reports to guide their conservation work on the ground. Government agencies, communities, NGOs and businesses that are working on conservation in the sites use this data and the Committee’s decisions to advance their work.
In partnership with
Building a global network of site managers
We provide networking, capacity building and cross-site learning opportunities through the World Heritage Marine Site Managers Network so that our site managers can continuously improve their management practice.
Site managers meet in person at our global conferences every three years, and share best practices and other resources on our dedicated site managers network website. Sites with biodiversity connectivity have made formal linkages through the network to safeguard migratory species recognized as of global importance to humanity.
Managers Network platform
(for World Heritage managers only)
In partnership with
Improving efficiency and
impact through marine spatial planning
We train World Heritage marine site managers to use marine spatial planning as a conservation tool.
Working with local stakeholders, our site managers facilitate the creation of marine spatial plans, using the mapping process to align all the actors in a site around common objectives.
Together, on-the-ground partners use marine spatial planning to develop plans, regulations and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the site’s special characteristics are conserved and maintained and economic development projects are commensurate World Heritage status.
Interview with Dr Fanny Douvere, Coordinator of UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme, about Marine Spatial Planning: A way forward for sustainable conservation?
Best Practice Guide
Our Best Practice Guide for site managers shares the marine spatial planning methodology and provides examples of its application in World Heritage marine sites
Download the PDF
In partnership with
Exploring the World Heritage Convention for High Seas conservation
We are actively exploring how the world’s most visible and nearly universally ratified Convention might be applied to the high seas.
The research includes input by legal experts on how World Heritage designation might work to protect important marine areas located in the other half of the planet currently not covered by the Convention.
Our report will list top potential sites that could be of Outstanding Universal Value and list possible ways the Convention could apply in these areas. The work builds on a first expert meeting held in Potsdam in March 2013 with support of the Kaplan Fund. The project is implemented in cooperation with IUCN in their capacity as official advisor for natural World Heritage. The results will be presented to the 40th session World Heritage Committee in mid-2016.
In partnership with
Safegarding Marine World Heritage: Together we can change the world
World Heritage marine sites cover about 20% of all marine protected areas by surface area. The World Heritage Convention works together with nations to ensure these iconic ocean places will be maintained for future generation.
Through ongoing dialogue with governments, the establishment of partnerships with private sector, NGOs and conservation groups as well as support to the day-to-day work of managers and their staff in the field, we help ensure that the unique characteristics that makes up a sites’ World Heritage status are well protected and endure through government transitions to benefit of humanity.
UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine Programme takes you on a journey to three exceptional World Heritage marine sites.
Narrated by Gisele Bündchen , UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Environment
Voices of the future
The World Heritage Centre gives the floor to the future generations. If we can't protect these 46 sites listed as World Heritage for their Outstanding Universal Value, what hope is there for the rest of the oceans?
Sign up to stay in touch with UNESCO's World Heritage Marine Programme
World Heritage Sites (47)
- Aldabra Atoll
- Area de Conservación Guanacaste
- Banc d'Arguin National Park
- Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
- Brazilian Atlantic Islands: Fernando de Noronha and Atol das Rocas Reserves
- Cocos Island National Park
- Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection
- East Rennell
- Everglades National Park
- Galápagos Islands
- Gough and Inaccessible Islands
- Great Barrier Reef
- Gulf of Porto: Calanche of Piana, Gulf of Girolata, Scandola Reserve
- Ha Long Bay
- Heard and McDonald Islands
- High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago
- Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park
- Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California
- Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek
- Komodo National Park
- Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems
- Lord Howe Island Group
- Macquarie Island
- Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
- Natural System of Wrangel Island Reserve
- New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands
- Ningaloo Coast
- Ogasawara Islands
- Península Valdés
- Phoenix Islands Protected Area
- Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
- Rock Islands Southern Lagoon
- Shark Bay, Western Australia
- Sian Ka'an
- Socotra Archipelago
- St Kilda
- Sundarbans National Park
- The Sundarbans
- Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
- Ujung Kulon National Park
- Wadden Sea
- West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord
- Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino