World Heritage Marine Programme
Facts & Figures
- 46 World Heritage sites
- Located in 35 countries
- Covering ¼ by area of all marine protected areas on the planet
- Recognized for their exceptional beauty, geology, ecosystem processes and biodiversity/habitat
Goals of the World Heritage
- World Heritage marine sites managed effectively
- An international network of World Heritage marine sites
- A marine World Heritage site managers network
World Heritage marine sites managed effectively
World Heritage marine sites share similar conservation challenges but simultaneously hold a wealth of information about good and best practices in dealing with them. While some sites are well managed and deal with threats adequately, others lack the capacity to do so. Bringing these success stories together, in ways that make them suitable for replication in other marine areas, is one of the central pieces of work where a clear and univocal added value can be delivered.
A Best Practice Guide
The work of the World Heritage Centre’s Marine Programme has allowed it to accumulate a tremendous amount of knowledge about sites, compiled over multiple years. It is today, in many respects, uniquely positioned to develop a set of best practice examples and to promote them so they will be replicated and benefit other marine protected areas around the world. Management of marine World Heritage sites is increasing challenging. Climate change, marine pollution, habitat destruction, overfishing, invasive species all impact effective conservation. Many of these impacts come from outside the World Heritage area. The new guidance aims to facilitate access to contemporary planning and management tools. It will provide a step-by-step approach on how to ensure existing management approaches adequately protect the Outstanding Universal Value for which the site is inscribed on the World Heritage List. The guide is prepared in close cooperation with site managers and will be available both in an innovative web-based format and print publication.
The Best Practice Guide will be launched and available on this website in February 2014.
2012 / 2014 - Pacific region - Our aim is to scale up marine World Heritage activities in the Pacific region. The work will be co-led with the French MPA Agency. A Memorandum of Understanding is currently being signed with the Agency and will provide a framework for cooperation in the region. A first meeting with regional stakeholders and existing and potential marine World Heritage site managers will be held in New Caledonia in October 2014.
More information about this meeting will be available on this website in October 2014.
Site specific priorities
Forthcoming - Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Belize
May 2013 -Tubbataha, Philippines: Working meeting to improve capacity building for management of the site, with specific focus on sustainable financing for the site and the establishment of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) for the property under IMO regulation
March 2013 - Banc d'Arguin, Mauritania: Expert meeting to facilitate a stronger cooperation with Wadden Sea for conservation of the flyway migratory birds and study of the possible advantages of a PSSA status for the property under International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulation
October 2011 - El Vizcaino and Gulf of California: Marine spatial planning training session and preparatory discussion in support of improvement of the management plans for both properties
An international network of World Heritage marine sites
Today, 46 marine sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List. They cover a vast range of ecosystem types in both tropical and temperate ocean areas. While mangroves, coral reefs and saltmarshes are relatively well represented among the network of marine sites on the World Heritage List, others are not. A recent, preliminary stock take indicated nine major marine gaps on the World Heritage List. The Arctic Realm might be of special interest. Nearly no World Heritage sites exist anywhere along the vast and distinct Arctic coastlines but this region contains many exceptional marine features.
- 2013 - IUCN Thematic Study: Marine Natural Heritage and the World Heritage List
- 2013 - Identifying potential marine sites of Outstanding Universal Value in the High Seas (A summary report of the first expert meeting will be available on this website in December 2013)
- 2012 - Marine World Heritage: Toward a more systematic approach for identifying gaps?
- 2012 - Assessing Marine World Heritage from an Ecosystem Perspective: The Western Indian Ocean
- 2009 - Bahrain Action Plan for Marine World Heritage
- 2002 - World Heritage Marine Biodiversity Workshop
The site managers networkWorld Heritage marine sites cover about one quarter by area of all marine protected areas (MPAs) on the planet. Given their status, they are in a unique position to actively change the management of a significant percentage of the existing global MPA coverage and thus directly make a compelling contribution to multiple International Biodiversity targets such as the 2010 Aichi Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity, among others. The mid long-term goal of the site managers network is to serve as drivers for change in ocean conservation globally.
- 2013 - Preparations are underway for the second global site managers conference that will be held in Marseille/Scandola reserve from 18 to 20 October 2013 (you can find more information about the conference here).
- 2013 - Follow the site managers at the 3rd World Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 3) in Corsica from 21 to 27 October 2013.
- 2011 - The first global site managers conference, held in Hawaii from 1 to 3 December 2010 gave birth to the marine World Heritage site managers community. It was a first step toward a stronger and well informed marine World Heritage site managers community. Download the publication that was launched after this meeting 'Navigating the future of Marine World Heritage' here in English and Spanish.