This document is a partial export of the World Heritage Policy Compendium


3    Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

Conservation of cultural and natural heritage is at the core of the Convention. Conservation includes effective and active measures that can be taken by States Parties to ensure the identification, protection, presentation and transmission of heritage.

There is no single definition of conservation in relation to both cultural and natural heritage. However, with regards to cultural heritage ‘all operations designed to understand a property, know its history and meaning, ensure its material safeguard, and, if required, its restoration and enhancement’ could be part of its conservation (Nara Document on Authenticity). Conservation of natural heritage refers to the protection, care, management and maintenance of ecosystems, habitats, wildlife species and populations, within or outside of their natural environments, in order to safeguard the natural conditions for their long-term permanence (IUCN).

The Conservation theme includes policies related to protection, management, monitoring, impact assessments, factors affecting the properties, tourism and sustainable development.

3.7    Sustainable development

Policy for the Integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective Into the Processes of the World Heritage Convention

2. “In the current context of changing demographics and climate, growing inequalities, diminishing resources, and growing threats to heritage, the need has become apparent to view conservation objectives, (…) with a broader range of economic, social and environmental values and needs encompassed in the sustainable development concept”.

4. “In addition to protecting the OUV of World Heritage properties, States Parties should, (…) recognise and promote the properties' inherent potential to contribute to all dimensions of sustainable development and work to harness the collective benefits for society, also by ensuring that their conservation and management strategies are aligned with broader sustainable development objectives. In this process, the properties’ OUV should not be compromised”.

5. “The integration of a sustainable development perspective into the World Heritage Convention will enable all stakeholders involved in its implementation, in particular at national level, to act with social responsibility (…)”.

6. “States Parties should recognise, by appropriate means, that World Heritage conservation and management strategies that incorporate a sustainable development perspective embrace not only the protection of the OUV, but also the wellbeing of present and future generations”.

7. (…) the overarching principles are (…):

- “Human Rights - The human rights embedded in the UN Charter and the range of broadly ratified human rights instruments reflect fundamental values that underpin the very possibility for dignity, peace and sustainable development. In implementing the World Heritage Convention, it is therefore essential to respect, protect and promote these environmental, social, economic, and cultural rights.

- Equality: The reduction of inequalities in all societies is essential to a vision of inclusive sustainable development. The conservation and management of World Heritage properties should therefore contribute to reducing inequalities, as well as its structural causes, including discrimination and exclusion.

- Sustainability, through a long-term perspective: Sustainability, broadly defined, is inherent to the spirit of the World Heritage Convention. It should serve as a fundamental principle for all aspects of development and for all societies. In the context of the World Heritage Convention, this means applying a long-term perspective to all processes of decision-making within World Heritage properties, with a view to fostering intergenerational equity, justice, and a world fit for present and future generations”.

8. “States Parties should (…) recognize the close links and interdependence of biological diversity and local cultures within the socio-ecological systems of many World Heritage properties”.

9. “All dimensions of sustainable development should apply to natural, cultural and mixed properties in their diversity. These dimensions are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, with none having predominance over another and each being equally necessary. States Parties should therefore review and reinforce governance frameworks within management systems of World Heritage properties in order to achieve the appropriate balance, integration and harmonization between the protection of OUV and the pursuit of sustainable development objectives”.

13. “The role of World Heritage properties as a guarantee of sustainable development needs to be strengthened. Their full potential to contribute to sustainable development needs to be harnessed”.

14. “The World Heritage Convention promotes sustainable development, and in particular environmental sustainability, by valuing and conserving places of outstanding natural heritage value, containing exceptional biodiversity, geodiversity or other exceptional natural features, which are essential for human well-being. A concern for environmental sustainability, however, should equally apply to cultural and mixed World Heritage properties, including cultural landscapes. In implementing the Convention, States Parties should therefore promote environmental sustainability more generally to all World Heritage properties to ensure policy coherence and mutual supportiveness with other multilateral environmental agreements. This involves a responsible interaction with the environment in both cultural and natural properties, to avoid depletion or degradation of natural resources, ensuring long-term environmental quality and the strengthening of resilience to disasters and climate change”.

15. “States Parties should ensure that biological and cultural diversity, as well as ecosystem services and benefits for people that contribute to environmental sustainability, are protected and enhanced within World Heritage properties, their buffer zones and their wider settings (…)”.

24. “World Heritage properties, as cultural and natural heritage in general, offer great potential to alleviate poverty and enhance sustainable livelihoods of local communities, including those of marginalized populations. (…) The Convention should therefore contribute to promoting sustainable forms of inclusive and equitable economic development, productive and even employment and income-generating activities for all, while fully respecting the OUV of World Heritage properties”.

ANNEX I. List of documents and texts

Policy for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (WHC-15/20.GA/INF.13)