Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme (WHEAP)

Timbuktu (Mali)

Earthen architecture is one of the most original and powerful expressions of our ability to create a built environment with readily available resources.

It includes a great variety of structures, ranging from mosques, palaces and granaries, to historic city centres, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites. Its cultural importance throughout the world is evident and has led to its consideration as a common heritage of humankind, therefore deserving protection and conservation by the international community. In 2011, over 10% of the World Heritage properties incorporate earthen structures. The availability and economic quality of the material mean it bears great potential to contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

However, increasingly threatened by natural and human impacts (e.g. floods and earthquakes, industrialization, urbanization, modern building technologies, disappearance of traditional conservation practices, etc.) earthen structures deserve particular attention in terms of conservation and maintenance; about ¼ of the sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in Danger are earthen sites.

The World Heritage Programme on Earthen Architecture (WHEAP) aims for the improvement of the state of conservation and management of earthen architecture sites worldwide. Pilot projects on earthen architectural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, or included in States Parties’ Tentative Lists, will help identify best practices and set examples for the development and dissemination of appropriate methods and techniques in conservation, management, and capacity building. Scientific research will further the endeavor to ameliorate know-how in the field. Expected results include a better understanding of the problems facing earthen architecture, the development of policies favoring its conservation, the definition of practical guidelines and the organization of training and awareness activities, particularly in local communities through workshops, exhibitions, conferences and technical publications to raise the recognition of earthen architecture, as well as the creation of an active global network for the exchange of information and experience.

At its 31st session (New Zealand, 2007), the World Heritage Committee approved the initiation of the integrated World Heritage Programme on Earthen Architecture (2007-2017) (decision 31 COM 21C, working document 31 COM 21C). Donors and States Parties were invited to provide financial support for the implementation of the activities, structured in four phases and progressively expanding over the globe. Accordingly, the preparatory phase concluded in 2008, is followed by three phases, each focusing on two regions or sub regions: Phase 2 (2009-2011) focuses on Africa and the Arab States, Phase 3 (2012-2014) on Latin-America and Central Asia, and Phase 4 (2015-2017) on Europe and Asia.

Phase 1 (2007-2008)
saw the following activities implemented

Phase 2 (2009-2011)
included a series of activities in Africa and Arab States

Arab states

Phase 3 (2012-2014) 

Latin-America and Central Asia
Other regions

The WHEAP involves the technical support of the main international conservation institutions: the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and the earth conservation institute CRAterre-ENSAG as well as of the regional institutions School of African Heritage (EPA, Benin), Centre for Heritage development in Africa (CHDA, Kenya), and Centre for Conservation and Restoration of Atlas and Subatlas Architectural Heritage (CERKAS, Morocco).In 2009, Udine University (Italy) also became a programme partner. In the course of the activities, the programme seeks further cooperation and partnerships with other specialized institutions, as well as national and local governmental authorities.

The programme activities are made possible thanks to the financial support granted by the World Heritage Committee through the World Heritage Fund, the UNESCO Special account for the safeguarding of the Cultural Heritage of Egypt, the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement, the Italian Funds-in-Trust, the Spanish Funds-in-Trust, and the Shaikh Ebrahim Mohammad Al-Kalifa Centre for Culture and Research/ARCAPITA Bank B.S.C from Bahrain.

in Contemporary Earthen and
Plane Fibre-based Architectures

The opening of applications for the third edition of the Global TERRAFIBRA Award in Contemporary Earthen and Plane Fibre-based Architectures took place on 3 November 2020, up until 3 Mars 2021.

This award promotes the mix of materials in contemporary architecture and aims to highlight the most innovative constructions in this division. Open to new or renovated buildings on all continents, with a significant amount of soil and/or plant fibers, this award is comprised of 10 categories, and in September 2021, the honorary jury will choose a winning project in each category.

For more information, please visit the dedicated webpage:


World Heritage Properties 150
Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro Archaeological Site of Carthage Archaeological Site of Volubilis Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes Asante Traditional Buildings Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah Bahla Fort Bam and its Cultural Landscape Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site Canal du Midi Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville Chaco Culture Chan Chan Archaeological Zone Changdeokgung Palace Complex Churches and Convents of Goa City of Cuzco City of Potosí City of Quito City of Safranbolu Classical Gardens of Suzhou Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia Complex of Koguryo Tombs Coro and its Port Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley Cultural Sites of Al Ain (Hafit, Hili, Bidaa Bint Saud and Oases Areas) Fortifications of Vauban Frontiers of the Roman Empire Fujian Tulou Gyeongju Historic Areas Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks Harar Jugol, the Fortified Historic Town Hatra Himeji-jo Historic Centre of Bukhara Historic Centre of Camagüey Historic Centre of Cordoba Historic Centre of Évora Historic Centre of Guimarães and Couros Zone Historic Centre of Lima Historic Centre of Morelia Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán Historic Centre of Oporto, Luiz I Bridge and Monastery of Serra do Pilar Historic Centre of Puebla Historic Centre of Salvador de Bahia Historic Centre of Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox Historic Centre of São Luís Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz Historic Centre of the Town of Diamantina Historic Centre of the Town of Goiás Historic Centre of the Town of Olinda Historic Centre of Zacatecas Historic City of Meknes Historic City of Sucre Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities) Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro Historic Quarter of the City of Colonia del Sacramento Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso Historic Site of Lyon Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines Historic Town of Ouro Preto Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns Historic Town of Zabid Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama Island of Mozambique Itchan Kala Itsukushima Shinto Shrine Jongmyo Shrine Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site Kasbah of Algiers Kathmandu Valley Koutammakou, the Land of the Batammariba Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou Kunya-Urgench León Cathedral M'Zab Valley Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor Medina of Fez Medina of Marrakesh Medina of Sousse Medina of Tunis Meidan Emam, Esfahan Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur Mesa Verde National Park Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam Mogao Caves Mount Wutai National Archeological Park of Tierradentro Old City of Sana'a Old Havana and its Fortification System Old Town of Cáceres Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications Old Town of Ghadamès Old Town of Lijiang Old Towns of Djenné Old Walled City of Shibam Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove Parthian Fortresses of Nisa Persepolis Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco Proto-urban Site of Sarazm Provins, Town of Medieval Fairs Punic Town of Kerkuane and its Necropolis Qal’at al-Bahrain – Ancient Harbour and Capital of Dilmun Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela Royal Hill of Ambohimanga Royal Palaces of Abomey Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty Ruins of León Viejo Ruins of Loropéni Sacred City of Caral-Supe Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures Samarra Archaeological City Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas Seokguram Grotto and Bulguksa Temple Shrines and Temples of Nikko Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System Soltaniyeh State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” Sukur Cultural Landscape Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex Takht-e Soleyman Taos Pueblo Tchogha Zanbil The Great Wall The Persian Garden Timbuktu Tomb of Askia Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios Viñales Valley Walled City of Baku with the Shirvanshah's Palace and Maiden Tower Yin Xu
Date Start: Thursday, 16 August 2007
Date end: Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Decisions / Resolutions (2)
Code: 42COM 5A

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/5A,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 5A adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017) and Decision 40 COM 5D adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Takes note with appreciation of the activities undertaken by the World Heritage Centre over the past year in pursuit of the Expected Result to ensure that “tangible heritage is identified, protected, monitored and sustainably managed by Member States, in particular through the effective implementation of the 1972 Convention”, and the five strategic objectives as presented in Document WHC/18/42.COM/5A; 
  4. Welcomes the proactive role of the Secretariat for enhancing synergies between the World Heritage Convention and the other Culture and Biodiversity-related Conventions, particularly the integration of relevant synergies aspects in the revised Periodic Reporting Format and the launch of a synergy-related web page on the Centre’s website;
  5. Also welcomes the increased collaboration among the Biodiversity-related Conventions through the Biodiversity Liaison Group and focused activities, including workshops, joint statements and awareness-raising;
  6. Takes note of the Thematic studies on the recognition of associative values using World Heritage criterion (vi) and on interpretation of sites of memory, funded respectively by Germany and the Republic of Korea and encourages all States Parties to take on board their findings and recommendations, in the framework of the identification of sites, as well as management and interpretation of World Heritage properties;
  7. Noting the discussion paper by ICOMOS on Evaluations of World Heritage Nominations related to Sites Associated with Memories of Recent Conflicts, decides to convene an Expert Meeting on sites associated with memories of recent conflicts to allow for both philosophical and practical reflections on the nature of memorialization, the value of evolving memories, the inter-relationship between material and immaterial attributes in relation to memory, and the issue of stakeholder consultation; and to develop guidance on whether and how these sites might relate to the purpose and scope of the World Heritage Convention, provided that extra-budgetary funding is available and invites the States Parties to contribute financially to this end;
  8. Also invites the States Parties to support the activities carried out by the World Heritage Centre for the implementation of the Convention;
  9. Requests the World Heritage Centre to present, at its 43rd session, a report on its activities.
    Thematic Programmes:
  10. Welcomes the progress report on the implementation of the World Heritage Thematic Programmes and Initiatives, notes their important contribution towards implementation of the Global Strategy for representative World Heritage List, and thanks all States Parties, donors and other organizations for having contributed to achieving their objectives;
  11. Acknowledges the results achieved by the World Heritage Cities Programme and calls States Parties and other stakeholders to provide human and financial resources ensuring the continuation of this Programme in view of its crucial importance for the conservation of the urban heritage inscribed on the World Heritage List, for the implementation of the Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape and its contribution to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals related to cities as well as for its contribution to the preparation of the New Urban Agenda, and further thanks to China and Croatia for their support for the implementation of the Programme;
  12. Also acknowledges the results achieved of the World Heritage Marine Programme, also thanks Flanders, France and the Annenberg Foundation for their support, notes the increased focus of the Programme on a global managers network, climate change adaptation strategies and sustainable fisheries, and invites States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and other stakeholders to continue to provide human and financial resources to support for the implementation of the Programme;
  13. Further acknowledges the results achieved in the implementation of the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism Programme, in particular the development of the Sustainable Tourism and Visitor Management Assessment tool and encourages States Parties to participate in the pilot testing of the tool, expresses appreciation for the funding provided by the European Commission and further thanks the Republic of Korea, Norway, and Seabourn Cruise Line for their support in the implementation of the Programme’’s activities;
  14. Further notes the progress in the implementation of the Small Island Developing States Programme, its importance for a representative, credible and balanced World Heritage List and building capacity of site managers and stakeholders to implement the World Heritage Convention, thanks furthermore Japan and the Netherlands for their support as well as the International Centre on Space Technology for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) and  the World Heritage Institute of Training & Research for the Asia & the Pacific Region (WHITRAP) as Category 2 Centres for their technical and financial supports and also requests the States Parties and other stakeholders to continue to provide human, financial and technical resources for the implementation of the Programme;
  15. Takes note of the activities implemented jointly by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and ICOMOS under the institutional guidance of the World Heritage Centre, in line with its Decision 40 COM 5D, further requests the World Heritage Centre to disseminate among the States Parties the second volume of the IAU/ICOMOS Thematic Study on Astronomical Heritage and renames this initiative as Initiative on Heritage of Astronomy, Science and Technology;
  16. Also takes note of the progress report on the Initiative on Heritage of Religious Interest, endorses the recommendations of the Thematic Expert Consultation meetings focused on Mediterranean and South-Eastern Europe (UNESCO, 2016), Asia-Pacific (Thailand, 2017) and Eastern Europe (Armenia, 2018), thanks the States Parties for their generous contribution and reiterates its invitation to States Parties and other stakeholders to continue to support this Initiative, as well as its associated Marketplace projects developed by the World Heritage Centre;
  17. Takes note of the activities implemented by CRATerre in the framework of the World Heritage Earthen Architecture Programme, under the overall institutional guidance of the World Heritage Centre, and of the lines of action proposed for the future, if funding is available;
  18. Invites States Parties, international organizations and donors to contribute financially to the Thematic Programmes and Initiatives as the implementation of thematic priorities is no longer feasible without extra-budgetary funding;
  19. Requests furthermore the World Heritage Centre to submit an updated result-based report on Thematic Programmes and Initiatives, under Item 5A: Report of the World Heritage Centre on its activities, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020.

Read more about the decision
Code: 31COM 21C

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/21C,
  2. Welcomes the proposal to implement an integrated programme of activities in support of earthen architectural heritage and recognizes the potential of this programme to contribute towards the sustainable development of traditional settlements which could provide considerable benefits to local communities;
  3. Decides to allocate USD 80,000 from the World Heritage Fund as seed money for the implementation of Phase 1 of the Programme (namely, USD 40,000 from the 2006-2007 budget, and USD 40,000 from the 2008-2009 budget);
  4. Encourages the World Heritage Centre to seek extra budgetary funds for the implementation of the proposed Programme activities;
  5. Also encourages the World Heritage Centre to use local institutions and human capacity already developed in the regions to drive the programme;
  6. Further encourages the World Heritage Centre to ensure the transfer of management of the programme to the regions within the first four years of the commencement of the programme; for Africa however the management of the programme should be done from the region by the School of African Heritage (EPA) and the Center for Heritage Development in Africa (CHDA), as well as established heritage institutions, with advice from CRATerre-ENSAG, ICCROM and ICOMOS;
  7. Calls for potential donors and States Parties to provide financial support for the implementation of Programme activities;
  8. Requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre to prepare a report on the programme objectives and a costed multi-year programme for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.

Read more about the decision