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(10/10/2009) © Earthwatch / Earthwatch

Business Skills for Natural World Heritage Site Managers programme

The Business Skills for Natural World Heritage Site Managers programme is a collaboration between international environmental charity Earthwatch, global energy company Shell and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The programme seeks to improve the management effectiveness of World Heritage Sites using business planning techniques.

The five-year programme, funded by Shell and implemented by Earthwatch, an internationally recognized conservation and training organization, is based on the successful Business Planning for Natural World Heritage Site Managers pilot project previously carried out between Shell Foundation and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Activities were inaugurated with a training course held in Borneo, Malaysia, from 19th to 29th October 2009. Representatives from three natural World Heritage sites, all in South-east Asia, were each partnered with a Shell employee, with whom they attended the training at the Earthwatch research and learning centre in the jungles of Malaysian Borneo. The representatives were from Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Subterreanean River National Park in the Philippines and Kinabalu Park, Malaysia.

But the training goes beyond participation at a simple workshop. Twinned with a Shell business planning mentor, natural World Heritage site managers are asked to develop a business plan by the end of the workshop and to implement it back in their respective sites. Over the course of the year following the workshop, the Shell mentors maintain contact with their respective World Heritage site managers to follow-up on progress and provide additiona support, sometimes including a site based consultation.

Over the course of the programme, managers from 27 natural World Heritage sites in Asia and Africa are expected to receive training.