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Towards a World Heritage Policy Compendium

 Policy Compendium Consultation

An online consultation was carried out by the World Heritage Centre in order to gather feedback and comments on the draft Policy Compendium from key World Heritage stakeholders in line with Decision 40 COM 12. The survey contains a brief presentation of the draft Policy Compendium accompanied by several questions and open fields for specific comments.  The results of the survey will be published soon.

In accordance with a sequence of decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee since 2011 regarding the development of a consolidated source of World Heritage policies (35 COM 12B, Decision 37 COM 13, Decision 40 COM 12), a Compendium of Policy for the World Heritage Convention (‘Policy Compendium’) is currently under development.

The Policy Compendium is being assembled by the World Heritage Centre, working together with a group of cultural and natural World Heritage experts, the Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention, and in consultation with other World Heritage stakeholders. The project is being implemented through financial support received from the government of Australia, and will run until 2019.

The ‘Policy Compendium’ will aim to provide States Parties with a consolidated source of policy decisions made under the Convention. It will respond to the need of States Parties for readily accessible information on adopted policies, which should guide them in establishing adequate mechanisms within their legislation and heritage protection and conservation mechanisms.


The development of the Policy Compendium should be considered within the overall context of the reflection undertaken since 2011 on the future of the 1972 Convention. The objective of this reflection is to strengthen the worldwide implementation of the Convention, including through the revision of working procedures and statutory documents, such as the Operational Guidelines.

At its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), the World Heritage Committee launched an initiative to develop a document capturing the range of policies that the Committee and the General Assembly adopt, also "drawing in part on the results of expert meetings and consultative bodies" (Decision 35 COM 12B).

The preparatory phase of the project was launched in 2015 thanks to the funding provided by the Government of Australia in 2015. A Scoping Study on the framework, scope and content of the compendium was carried out by ICCROM and the World Heritage Centre and submitted for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016).

The Scoping Study was approved by the World Heritage Committee Decision 40 COM 12 along with the proposal to rename the document, previously referred to as ‘Policy Guidelines’, as ‘A Compendium of Policy of the World Heritage Convention’, in short ‘Policy Compendium’ in order to avoid confusion between the ‘Operational’ and ‘Policy’ Guidelines.

The World Heritage Committee also requested that the World Heritage Centre report on the progress of work and submit the first draft Policy Compendium as reviewed by the working group for examination at its 42nd session in 2018.


The Policy Compendium will aim to:
  • Provide a consolidated source of policy decisions made under the Convention;
  • Improve decision-making by the World Heritage Committee and States Parties for the better implementation of the World Heritage Convention and for the conservation, management and protection of World Heritage properties in the future;
  • Improve understanding by States Parties so they can better address the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission of cultural and natural heritage through the implementation of the Convention, as well as preparation of nomination files;
  • Function as a guidance tool contributing to the management by the States Parties of World Heritage properties when addressing, for example, such key challenges as disaster risk preparedness, climate change, human rights, etc.
  • Assist States Parties in reviewing their policies, legal systems, institutional infrastructure and governance mechanisms related to management of World Heritage properties;
  • Promote capacity building of States Parties for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention including stronger awareness on environmental, social and economic challenges to World Heritage conservation.

The World Heritage Committee examines the draft World Heritage Policy Compendium at its 42nd session in Manama, Bahrain

At its 42nd session in Manama, Bahrain, the World Heritage Committee examined the draft Policy Compendium, which is currently being developed by the World Heritage Centre, together with an expert Working Group and in consultation with other World Heritage stakeholders, and is implemented through financial support from the government of Australia.

Experts from the Policy Compendium Working Group presented the draft Compendium to Committee members and discussed the process of its development and the vision for the next steps. The results of the online Consultation with World Heritage stakeholders were also presented. The consultation (carried out in March 2018), which gathered feedback on the proposed content, structure and format of the draft Compendium from States Parties to the Convention, UNESCO Category 2 Centres, representatives of civil society and other interested observers, demonstrate high levels of approval for the approach to the work.

The World Heritage Committee commended the work of the World Heritage Centre and the Expert Working Group on the draft Policy Compendium and provided constructive feedback and proposals regarding its presentation and final format.

This review by the Committee of the draft Compendium marks the beginning of Phase Two of its development, which will see the streamlining of the content and the development of a user-friendly online tool. The Expert Group will continue its work on the Compendium and a meeting of the group is foreseen towards the end of 2018.

A finalized Policy Compendium will be presented for review by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.

of the Online Consultation

The slides of the presentation
are available
English French

Key Stakeholders

National Governments
Site Managers
The World Heritage Committee
The World Heritage Centre
Students and Researchers
NGOs and Environmental Groups
Global Heritage and Conservation Experts
UNESCO Category 2 Centres
Decisions (5)
Show 43COM 11B
Show 42COM 11
Show 40COM 12
Show 37COM 13
Show 35COM 12B