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World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme

Understanding, managing and conserving World Heritage properties requires up-to-date knowledge and well-honed skills. To help build the capacity of all stakeholders in World Heritage – whether they are practitioners, institutions, communities or networks – the World Heritage Centre has created a number of tools and activities that foster people-centred change, centring on groups of individuals to improve approaches to managing cultural and natural heritage.

Over time, many of the capacity-building activities have been supported through extrabudgetary projects funded by the States Parties to the Convention, as well as through the regular activities of the World Heritage Centre.

Capacity Building is one of the Strategic Objectives (or “Five C’s”) of the World Heritage Committee and is at the core of the sustainable implementation of the Convention.

The Capacity Building Strategy
for World Heritage

The original Global Training Strategy was launched in 2001 and was succeeded by the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS) in June 2011, highlighting a conceptual shift from training to capacity building for cultural and natural heritage (Decision 35 COM 9B).

The Strategy was developed by the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with ICCROM, IUCN, ICOMOS and other capacity-building partners, such as World Heritage Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO in various regions of the world. The work was made possible by contributions from the World Heritage Fund and the Swiss Government, which also provided professional expertise.

Since the adoption of the WHCBS, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and capacity-building partners have been working to implement capacity-building activities at both the regional and international levels to address the needs of heritage practitioners, institutions and other networks and communities. They have also developed specific regional strategies to strengthen World Heritage-related capacities. Reinforcing the capacity-building pillar of the Convention continues to be a priority to equip States Parties with the relevant expertise to protect and manage their sites, as well as to ensure a representative, credible and balanced World Heritage List. Many States Parties have integrated key provisions into national legislations, policies and strategic frameworks including, in some instances, cross-cutting domains of importance for sustainable development.

The Committee reviews the progress accomplished with the implementation of the WHCBS at its annual sessions. As the 10th anniversary of the WHCBS has come in 2021, the World Heritage Committee has requested an evaluation, which it will review at its 45th session in 2022. The World Heritage Centre and ICCROM have also proposed to define guidelines with a view to updating the WHCBS, which may be presented to the Committee for review at its 46th session in 2023, if funding allows.

Strategic Priorities
and Core Topics

Small Island
Developing States
(SIDS)

UNESCO supports Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their efforts to achieve sustainable development, which reflects the priority status assigned to SIDS in UNESCO’s current strategy. 

UNESCO
Operational Strategy
on Youth

UNESCO has long considered youths a priority group for the Organization, and the World Heritage Education Programme has ensured since 1994 the active role of youth in World Heritage through capacity-building. 

Biodiversity
and Climate Change

The World Heritage Convention recognises some World Heritage properties specifically for their outstanding biodiversity values. Below are some links on capacity building and biodiversity.

World Heritage
in a Post-COVID-19 World

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many governments have taken measures to restrict movements of people and access to certain areas. This includes the closure of natural and cultural World Heritage sites in the 167 countries that currently have one or more sites on the List. The World Heritage Centre continued to foster capacity building in all forms, including by shifting to online tools and resources and holding innovative workshops for all levels of heritage management.

Partners

The World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy highlights the importance of addressing a wide range of audiences and expects that activities are carried out by different entities, such as the Advisory Bodies, Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO, and UNESCO Chairs, in addition to the dedicated actions of each State Party. Here are the partners that have recently supported capacity-building efforts:

World Heritage
Leadership Programme

In 2016, ICCROM, IUCN and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and the Environment launched the World Heritage Leadership Programme, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS. This Programme aims to improve conservation and management practices for culture and nature through the work of the World Heritage Convention, as an integral component of the contribution of World Heritage properties to sustainable development.

World Heritage Leadership | ICCROM
World Heritage Leadership | IUCN
News (22)
Strategic objectives
Capacity Building
Decisions / Resolutions (10)
Code: 44COM 6

Decision: 44 COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 6, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Also recalling that capacity-building is one of the Strategic Objectives of the World Heritage Convention and is at the core of the sustainable implementation of the Convention and therefore is a priority for the effective implementation of the World Heritage Convention for all stakeholders;
  4. Expresses its concern over the challenges faced by the States Parties in the protection and conservation of World Heritage properties in the face of increased global economic, social, digital and environmental challenges, as well as the need to strengthen national and local capacities through enhanced knowledge exchange, capacity-building and training of current and future national and local officials in heritage conservation and management;
  5. Takes note of the need to enhance expert diversity, strengthen regional expertise, enhance skills to address issues at endangered sites, develop technical and vocational training modules for youth, develop competencies for all World Heritage stakeholders, improve the use of digital technologies within the process of identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage, and to develop a strategic multi-stakeholder partnership programme to enhance the credibility and visibility of the World Heritage brand globally;
  6. Also takes note of the challenges faced by all stakeholders to maintain capacity-building activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic and commends the progress made by the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies, Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO (C2Cs) related to World Heritage as well as the UNESCO Chairs with the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS), and notably the efforts to adapt capacity-building activities during the global COVID-19 pandemic;
  7. Takes note of the implementation of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives, and calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region;
  8. Thanks the Governments of Norway, the Republic of Korea and Switzerland for the financial support they extended to the WHCBS and the World Heritage Leadership Programme, also thanks the Governments of the People’s Republic of China and Oman for supporting World Heritage Capacity-building activities in Africa, and encourages States Parties and other stakeholders to continue supporting the implementation of the WHCBS by providing financial support and/or by reinforcing the human resources of the institutions involved;
  9. Also recalling that Category 2 Centres under the auspices of UNESCO and UNESCO Chairs have the mandate of contributing to the implementation of the Organization’s strategic priorities, programmes and global development agendas, notably through capacity building, welcomes the progress made by Category 2 Centres and UNESCO Chairs related to World Heritage with the implementation of their activities, also calls upon interested stakeholders to support these Category 2 Centres, UNESCO Chairs and their activities, and also encourages States Parties to make full use of the services and resources that Category 2 Centres provide, in a spirit of international cooperation;
  10. Also takes note of the 10-year anniversary of the WHCBS in 2021 and, further recalling its request for an evaluation of the WHCBS, notes that no funding has been made available for this purpose to date, and therefore will consider reallocating USD 30,000 as seed money from the World Heritage Fund under item 14 of the agenda, to initiate the evaluation and the creation of a new WHCBS;
  11. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM, in cooperation with IUCN and ICOMOS, to submit an independent results-based evaluation of the outcomes of the WHCBS, based on close consultation and a participatory, transparent, and inclusive process with the States Parties and other capacity building stakeholders and beneficiaries, for examination at its 45th session;
  12. Notes with appreciation the generous financial support offered by the State Party of Saudi Arabia to conduct the abovementioned independent evaluation of the WHCBS;
  13. Also requests, based on the independent results-based evaluation and assessment of the outcomes of the WHCBS, and taking into account the results of the Periodic Reporting process, that a new WHCBS with clear priorities, strategic objectives, expected outputs and outcomes, and relevant indicators be developed for a time period of 2023-2032 and presented, if funding allows, for review at its 46th session;
  14. Reiterates its invitation to States Parties to contribute financial resources for the renewal of the WHCBS through earmarked contributions to the World Heritage Fund or by providing extra-budgetary support to the World Heritage Centre for this purpose;
  15. Finally requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the WHCBS, for examination at its 45th session.

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Code: 43COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 6, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS);
  4. Requests ICCROM, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and ICOMOS, to carry out a results-based evaluation of the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy, consulting Category 2 Centres and other capacity building partners, for examination by the Committee at its 45th session in 2021;
  5. Further requests ICCROM, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, IUCN, ICOMOS, the Category 2 Centres, and other capacity building partners, based on the above-mentioned evaluation, to review progress and outcomes of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session in 2022; 
  6. Invites States Parties to contribute extra-budgetary resources for the evaluation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy and its revision;
  7. Notes with appreciation the support from States Parties to capacity building;
  8. Calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for the implementation of the World Heritage Leadership Programme and other activities as part of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy at the international and regional levels;
  9. Takes note of the implementation of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives, and also calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region;
  10. Welcomes the progress made by the category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities and further calls upon interested stakeholders to support these activities;
  11. Encourages the Advisory Bodies and the category 2 centres to establish joint regional capacity-building programmes which facilitate and promote knowledge and experience exchanges among professionals, institutions and other stakeholders;
  12. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit an in-depth report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy by improving the quality of its content by emphasizing concrete outcomes and the activities of the category 2 centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 44th session in 2020.

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Code: 42COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 6 (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS);
  4. Notes with appreciation the ongoing commitment of the Government of Norway to the six-year, World Heritage Leadership Programme, as well as the ongoing support for capacity building by the Government of Switzerland;
  5. Calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for the implementation of the World Heritage Leadership Programme and other activities as part of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy at the international and regional levels;
  6. Takes note of the development of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives, and also calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region;
  7. Welcomes the progress made by the category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities and further calls upon interested stakeholders to support these activities;
  8. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy and the activities of the category 2 centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.

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Code: 41COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 6 adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS), its accompanying World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme, and the capacity-building activities carried out in 2016 and in the beginning of 2017;
  4. Also commends ICCROM for the presentation of the disaggregated statistics on the beneficiaries and impacts of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Programmes and encourages that this practice continue in future reports;
  5. Notes with appreciation the committment of the Government of Norway to the six-year, World Heritage Leadership Programme, as well as the ongoing support for capacity building by the Government of Switzerland;
  6. Calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for the implementation of the World Heritage Leadership Programme and other activities as part of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy at the international and regional levels;
  7. Takes note of the development of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives, and also calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow-up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region;
  8. Welcomes the progress made by all Category 2 Centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities and also calls on interested stakeholders to support these activities;
  9. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy and the activities of the Category 2 Centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.

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Code: 40COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 6, 36 COM 9B, 37 COM 5E, 37 COM 6, 38 COM 6 as well as 39 COM 6 adopted at its 36th (St Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS), its accompanying World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme, and the capacity-building activities carried out in 2015 and in the beginning of 2016;
  4. Notes with appreciation the continued support of the Government of Switzerland in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme;
  5. Welcomes the initiative by the Government of Norway in collaboration with ICCROM and IUCN to develop a medium term, six-year programme for capacity building, “World Heritage Leadership”;
  6. Calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme and associated activities at the international and regional levels;
  7. Takes note of the development of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives, and also calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow-up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region, ensuring that the different regional initiatives do not overlap;
  8. Also welcomes the progress made by all category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities and calls on interested stakeholders to support these activities;
  9. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy and the activities of the category 2 centres related to World Heritage, with indicators on number of participants from developing and underrepresented States Parties, for examination by the Committee at its 41st session in 2017.

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Code: 39COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/6,
  2. Recalling decisions 36 COM 6, 36 COM 9B, 37 COM 5E, 37 COM 6 and 38 COM 6 adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012), 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) and 38th (Doha, 2014) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy (WHCBS), its accompanying World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme, and the capacity-building activities carried out in 2014 and in the beginning of 2015;
  4. Notes with appreciation the continued support of the Government of Switzerland in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme;
  5. Acknowledges the acute need, however, for significant additional contributions and support in order for the programme to be able to reach its goal, and calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Programme and associated activities at the international and regional levels;
  6. Takes note of the development of the regional capacity-building strategies and initiatives as a follow up to the second cycle of the Periodic Reporting exercise in all regions, and calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders to follow-up on the implementation of the strategies developed for each region;
  7. Encourages the ongoing efforts by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to establish a biennial recognition of best practices, notably through identifying extrabudgetary financial support towards the implementation of this activity;
  8. Welcomes the progress made by all category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities and calls on interested stakeholders to support the activities of these centres;
  9. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity-Building Strategy and the activities of the category 2 centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 40th session in 2016.

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Code: 38COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/6,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 6, 36 COM 9B, 37 COM 5E and 37 COM 6, adopted at its 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS), its accompanying World Heritage Capacity Building Programme, and the capacity building activities carried out in 2013 and 2014;
  4. Notes with appreciation the continued support of the Government of Switzerland in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Programme;
  5. Acknowledges the acute need, however, for additional significant contributions in order to reach a critical mass of support for the programme to be able to reach its goal, and calls upon other States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and other support for the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Programme and associated activities at the international and regional levels;
  6. Takes note of the development of the regional capacity building strategies and initiatives as a follow up to Periodic Reporting exercise in all regions, and notably of the conclusion of the Regional Capacity Building Strategy and Associated Programmes for Asia and the Pacific, led by the World Heritage Institute for Training and Research in Asia and the Pacific (WHITR-AP), and also calls upon States Parties and all concerned partners and stakeholders of the region to follow-up the implementation of the strategy;
  7. Encourages the ongoing efforts by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to establish a biennial recognition of best practice, notably through identifying extrabudgetary financial support towards the implementation of this activity;
  8. Welcomes the progress made by all category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities as well as the outcomes of their fourth coordination meeting (Shanghai, 23-26 May 2014), generously hosted by WHITR-AP;
  9. Further welcomes the establishment of the Centre for World Natural Heritage Management and Training for the Asia and Pacific Region in Dehradun (India) as a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO;
  10. Also takes note of the new integrated comprehensive strategy for category 2 centres, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO, at its 37th session (Paris, 2013);
  11. Also encourages the ongoing efforts to develop a UNITWIN network of UNESCO Chairs active in the field of heritage conservation which would help streamlining their contribution to the objectives of the World Heritage Convention and strengthen their synergies with existing category 2 centres, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  12. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and the activities of the category 2 centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

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Code: 37COM 6

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/6,

2. Recalling Decisions 35 COM 9B, 36 COM 6 and 36 COM 9B , adopted at its 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively,

3. Welcomes the progress made on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS) and the capacity building activities carried out in 2012 and 2013;

4. Thanks the Government of Switzerland for its continued support for the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy;

5. Calls on all States Parties and other organzations with an interest in capacity building to provide funding and other support for the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and its associated programmes at the international and regional levels;

6. Acknowledges the very important role that category 2 centres and the capacity-building centres related to World Heritage are playing in the implementation of the WHCBS, and their potential to further contribute to capacity-building in general;

7. Welcomes the progress made by all category 2 centres related to World Heritage in implementing their activities as well as the outcomes of their third coordination meeting (Oslo, 5-8 March 2013), notably the decision by all of them to review, with the support of UNESCO, their strategies and plans by applying the results-based management (RBM) approach so as to ensure that their activities are tied to the overall objectives of UNESCO and the priorities established by the Committee;

8. Further welcomes the proposed strengthening of synergies and cooperation at the regional level between UNESCO category 2 centres and UNESCO Chairs, IUCN regional networks and ICOMOS National Committees, and at the thematic level with ICCROM, ICOMOS International Scientific Committees and the UNESCO UNITWIN Networks;

9. Thanks the Nordic World Heritage Foundation (Oslo, Norway) for having hosted the third annual coordination meeting of category 2 centres related to World Heritage, with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Environment;

10. Requests the World Heritage Centre and ICCROM to submit a progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and the activities of the UNESCO category 2 centres related to World Heritage for examination by the Committee at its 38th session in 2014. 

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Code: 36COM 9B

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/9B;

2.   Recalling Decisions 34 COM 9C and 35 COM 9B adopted at its 34th (Brasilia, 2010) and 35th (UNESCO, 2011) sessions respectively;

3.   Takes note of the progress made on the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS) by a variety of capacity building stakeholders;

4.   Thanks the State Party of Switzerland for its continued support to the on-going IUCN-ICCROM World Heritage Capacity Building Initiative;

5.   Welcomes the proposed new international capacity building programme;

6.   Requests the Advisory Bodies, the World Heritage Centre, and the UNESCO Category 2 Centres and relevant UNESCO Chairs to assist States Parties in the development of regional capacity building programmes which are based on the outcomes of the Periodic Reporting exercises and the WHCBS;

7.   Requests the World Heritage Centre, in coordination with the Advisory Bodies and Category 2 centres, to continue providing an inventory of heritage training centres in all regions with a view to sharing experience and expertise;

8.   Encourages States Parties and the international community to support both the international capacity building programme and the regional capacity building programmes as they are developed and put into implementation;

9.   Also requests ICCROM, in consultation with IUCN, ICOMOS and the World Heritage Centre, to report on the progress made in the implementation of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy (WHCBS) for examination by the Committee at its 37th session in 2013. 

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Code: 35COM 9B

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/9B,
  2. Welcomes the finalization of a new World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and notes the participatory process used to develop this strategy;
  3. Notes with appreciation the ongoing contribution of the State Party of Switzerland to the finalization of the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and to the implementation of the interim capacity building programme for World Heritage;
  4. Adopts the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy found in Document WHC-11/35.COM/9B;
  5. Requests ICCROM, in collaboration with IUCN, ICOMOS, the World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Chairs, and UNESCO category 2 centres related to World Heritage and other capacity building partners to begin the implementation of the strategy based on their specific areas of interest and resources;
  6. Takes note of the need for a significant amount of additional funding in order to fully implement the World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy;
  7. Encourages States Parties to support the new World Heritage Capacity Building Strategy and consider the allocation of additional financial resources to contribute to its implementation, taking into account the most important needs identified.

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