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World Heritage Youth Forum (1999) First Arab Edition

Ifrane, Morocco
22-28 November 1999


The Forum aims to stimulate young people's interest in preserving the world's cultural and natural heritage. The Forum will give participants the opportunity to exchange views among themselves and education and heritage conservation experts on how to protect cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value and will be important learning experience for the students and their teachers on how to communicate the significance of heritage protection and promotion through education.

The student participants will take part in workshops focusing on: involving young people in heritage preservation and promotion; identification of key questions and suggestions to be addressed to national authorities responsible for heritage; and creative activities in support of world heritage preservation. The day after the Forum ands, a student delegation will present a young people's pledge to the opening session of the 23rd session of the World Heritage Committee to be held in Marrakech, Morocco (November 29 to December 4).

Teachers will attend a parallel program, giving them an opportunity to share experiences in developing pedagogic approaches in support of world heritage education. They will also have the chance to make comments and suggestions on the World Heritage Educational Resource Kit.

The Forum should strengthen the Special Project in Arab region, notably with publication of the Arabic version of the Kit. Participants will also make a field visit to the Medina of Fez and to the remnants of the Roman City of Volubilis.

Youth Forum Objectives

  • Keep young people interested in the World Heritage Convention and in the World Heritage sites in their countries
  • To develop efficient teaching methods by increasing communication between teachers and experts of the World Heritage conservation and to integrate the World Heritage protection in the secondary school curricula in the entire world
  • To conserve the art crafts works by using the knowledge of elders who have the capability to tie the past with the present
  • To help young people to understand the cultural dimension of the historical monuments.

Declaration of the Youth from the Arab Region on World Heritage

The Pledge

We, the young people of the Arab World, convened at the First Arab States World HeritageYouth Forum, held at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, from 22 to 28 November 1999, believe that:

The present is the product of the past, therefore, we can live the present and dream of the future only through the past. This is the past which our ancestors built and bequeathed to us and which became known as heritage. Thus, by preserving heritage, we preserve our identity, our authenticity and the continuity of our civilization. It is young people who are primarily concerned with the identity of society.

Heritage is not only cultural, but also natural, given that the natural environment plays a major role in shaping civilizations. Cultural heritage is not restricted only to what is tangible. The latter serves as a framework for the spiritual heritage that refers to Man's identity, personality and history.

After having attended lectures, witnessed the international efforts to preserve heritage, visited the World Heritage sites in Morocco, and having participated in the various workshops, we, the Arab youth, would like to make the following points:

First, we, as young people from the Arab region, need to be aware of our essential role in the conservation of heritage. As participants, we shall make every effort to pass on to our peers in our home countries the knowledge we have acquired concerning respect for and conservation of heritage. We request the assistance of UNESCO in organizing further youth forums.

Second, we consider that the media (radio, television, etc.) and modern technology (computers, the Internet etc.) play a major role in raising awareness of the necessity for the preservation of world's heritage. Handicrafts are part of our heritage and identity; it is therefore imperative to revitalize these traditional crafts.

Third, we request that World Heritage issues be included in the educational curricula of UNESCO Associated Schools in a pilot phase, to be followed by all other schools.

Fourth, we underline the fact that we share a common language, identity and history. It is our responsibility to ensure that this common heritage is a determining factor in bringing together our countries in peace and brotherhood.

Finally, we assert that heritage is a question of behavior and practical application rather than a theory and an idea, and we call upon the youth of the world to understand this and cooperate with the youth of the Arab region under the motto:

"Let's preserve the heritage of the past and the present to build the heritage of the future".

This pledge was adopted by 38 Patrimonitos from twelve Arab States in Ifrane on 27 November 1999.


UNESCO World Heritage Centre;
the UNESCO Rabat Office;
the Moroccan National Commission for UNESCO

Participants and observers

72 participants, of which
57 Students and teachers
15 members of organizing committee

Countries represented

Tunisia, Jordan, Mauritania, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco

States parties 1
Date Start: Monday, 22 November 1999
Date end: Sunday, 28 November 1999