At a year-end strategy discussion, Shell, Earthwatch and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre evaluated the results of the first year of work under their five-year programme of collaboration to enhance the business skills of managers of World Heritage sites. During the first year, nine World Heritage site managers from three sites in South East Asia had received training in Business Planning processes by three regional, specially-trained Shell staff members. The training was organized by international environmental charity Earthwatch and took place over a nine-day period at Earthwatch's Danum research station in Sabah province, Malaysia.
"Earthwatch is delighted with how the programme has unfolded over the first year, and look forward to expanding the number of sites involved in 2010. This means that twice as many of the most beautiful and threatened places on Earth face a safer future," said Simon Reid, Earthwatch's programme manager for the initiative.
This training programme is innovative by its year-long peer to peer follow-up that is built into the training programme. Once back at the office at their respective World Heritage sites, these managers work with their staff to complete the business plan and to begin implementing it. During this process, the Shell mentors provide on-going support, via email, conference call, or, if feasible, via follow-up visits.
"We are very keen - this is an excellent way to ensure that workshop lessons are well-applied; it gives us the confidence and the support to follow through on the ideas we came up with, and on the commitments we made at the workshop," reports James Mendoza from the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, a World Heritage site in the Philippines.
Given the success of the first phase of the programme, two training sessions directed at six sites in South East Asia will be held in 2010. "The added support will allow the programme to reach out to 27 natural World Heritage sites in five years- this is an excellent contribution to the management of World Heritage sites in the region," said Marc Patry, programme specialist at UNESCO and focal point for this initiative.
Earthwatch is responsible for developing and implementing the training, while Shell provides financing and the experienced staff to carry it out.