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Decision 39 COM 15
Report on the execution of the budget for the biennium 2014-2015 and preparation of the budget for the biennium 2016-2017

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/15,
  2. Recalling its decision 35 COM 12 B adopted at its 35th session to establish a Budget Working Group as a Standing Consultative Body of the Committee,
  3. Takes note of the statement of accounts of the World Heritage Fund for 2014-2015 and the situation of the reserves and contributions as at 31 December 2014;
  4. Recalls that the payment of assessed compulsory and voluntary contributions is, as per Article 16 of the World Heritage Convention, an obligation incumbent on States Parties having ratified the Convention;
  5. Thanks the States Parties, who have already made their contributions, and with deep concern for the sustainability of the World Heritage Fund strongly calls upon the other States Parties, who have not yet paid the totality of their assessed contributions, including voluntary contributions in accordance with Article 16.2 of the Convention, to ensure that their contributions are paid as soon as possible, bearing in mind the repercussions for non-payment which include the inability to access International Assistance;
  6. Also recognizes that States Parties have an obligation to fulfil the objectives of the Convention and have a responsibility to provide sufficient funding for statutory processes and International Assistance;
  7. Notes with concern the impact of the budget reduction of the UNESCO regular budget on programme activities, and appreciates the continuing efforts undertaken to manage and mitigate the challenges brought about by this situation;
  8. Also recalls with deep concern the current financial situation of the World Heritage Fund which has hampered its ability to provide for activities related to the Convention, including conservation and management of properties which are a top priority, as well as nominations, and further recognizes the necessity to urgently achieve the sustainability of the Fund, is required to underpin the Convention as a flagship of UNESCO;
  9. Notes that the World Heritage Fund will not increase significantly in future due to the universality of the Convention, as well as the provisions of the Convention that determine the statutory funding of the World Heritage Fund, while at the same time the number of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and, subsequently, the workload of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will continue to increase;
  10. Recognizing the urgent need to ensure the sustainability of the World Heritage Fund and having considered the options for voluntary contributions to this end, again calls upon all States Parties to allocate voluntary contributions to the World Heritage Fund, especially to the sub-accounts for International Assistance and Human Capacities, and making voluntary contributions, including by choosing among the options described in Resolution 19 GA 8 as follows:
  • Option 1: Increasing the standard percentage used in the calculation of the contributions to the World Heritage Fund from 1% to 2%,
  • Option 3.1: Increasing the contributions by a flat rate of US$3,300 per property inscribed,Option 3.2: Increasing the contributions by an additional 4% of the current assessed contribution per property inscribed,
  • Option 3.3: Increasing the contributions by an additional amount per property inscribed, according to a percentage increasing with the number of properties inscribed,
  • Option 3.4: Increasing the contributions by an additional amount per property inscribed, according to a percentage decreasing with the number of properties inscribed,
  • Option 4: Increasing the contributions on the basis of the number of tourists arrivals at World Heritage Sites,
  • Option 5: Contributing per activity;
  1. Noting that without additional contributions being made to the World Heritage Fund, the financial resources will not be sufficient to provide for the statutory processes as well as International Assistance and its delivery through the reduced staff of the World Heritage Centre, thereby threatening the credibility of the Convention and the fulfilment of its mandate,
  2. Expressing its deep concern that the resources available to the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies are not sufficient to implement the statutory activities required by the Convention and recommending the workload requested of the Secretariat and Advisory Bodies be reduced and prioritized more systematically to align with the financial and human resources available,
  3. Approves the budget adjustments within the World Heritage Fund to fund International Assistance requests in an amount of US$ 60,000, to be covered by the budget lines of Information Management and Retrospective Inventory (US$ 30,000 each);
  4. Accepts that the Operating Reserve of the World Heritage Fund cover the request from ICOMOS for additional funding in the amount of US$ 57,180;
  5. Also approves the budget for the World Heritage Fund for the biennium 2016-2017 and its corresponding breakdown as shown in Annex V;
  6. Authorizes the Director-General to make transfers between Action lines and reserves up to an amount of 20% of the initial budget/Expenditure Plan approved, to a maximum amount of US$ 250,000, each biennium in order to allow the execution of the Committee’s decisions and to respond to emergency needs, informing the Members of World Heritage Committee in writing, at the session following such action, of the details and reasons for these transfers;
  7. Notes with appreciation the supplementary costs covered by the German Authorities as host of the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee, in addition to those listed in the Statement of Requirements;
  8. Considers that without additional contributions being made to the World Heritage Fund, financial resources will not be sufficient to provide for statutory processes, and also notes that there have already been significant cuts to key Convention processes and activities, which affect the delivery of International Assistance and capacity building, as well as cuts in implementation of the Periodic Reporting, development of thematic studies, Information Management and Retrospective Inventory;
  9. Decides to continue to explore appropriate ways to ensure the sustainability of the Fund, including through extrabudgetary resource mobilization opportunities and additional fundraising possibilities, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre, other UNESCO competent services, the Advisory Bodies and States Parties, and to develop recommendations in this regard;
  10. Requests the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies to hold a budget briefing as part of the information session prior to each session of the Committee;
  11. Also recalling its welcome of the suggestion to reduce the duration and agenda of the sessions as stated in decision 38 COM 5F1,
  12. Taking note of the emphasis placed by the World Heritage Committee on conservation and management which are top priorities, and considering that the actual stand of expenses/budgeting does not reflect this prioritization, recommends that the World Heritage Centre, in its implementation of the budget for the next biennium (2016-2017), gives priority to conservation and monitoring activities, and therefore calls for increasing the proportion of the World Heritage Fund dedicated to conservation and decides to keep the number of 150 SOC reports per annum;
  13. Having taken note of the dire budgetary situation of the World Heritage Fund, and the fact that the biggest savings could be achieved through combined efforts to reduce the number of nominations (25/year), through considering opportunities to have different state of conservation (SOC) reporting cycles depending on urgency of situation at site and through considering the frequency of the annual cycle of the World Heritage Committee meetings,
  14. Requests the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies to prepare an annual decision document on the number of new nominations to be examined in the following year according to Document INF.8B3 including cost estimates for each nomination and – if necessary – a prioritization according to Operational Guidelines 61 c;
  15. Also requests the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies to:
    1. explore and report on options to extend the reporting cycle for SOC sites depending on the degree of urgency at the site; and
    2. prepare an analysis on the financial and operational implications of transferring to a 2-year meeting cycle, to be presented in the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in order to provide basis for the World Heritage Committee to have an informed discussion on the merits of changing the frequency of the meeting cycle;
  16. Emphasizes that under any option to change to a two-year meeting cycle, it is important to maintain the premise of the Global Strategy;
  17. Decides that cost savings will be reallocated to International Assistance directed towards the conservation and management of World Heritage properties and capacity building, given the number of countries which need support to establish/maintain a presence on the World Heritage List;
  18. Also thanks the Secretariat for providing the comparative analysis of options for further efficiency and cost saving measures and resource mobilisation that could contribute to the sustainability of the World Heritage Fund;
  19. Further requests the World Heritage Centre to report on the implementation of this Decision at the 40th session in 2016.
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015)
Context of Decision