The World Heritage Marine Programme, in cooperation with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is actively exploring how the World Heritage Convention could potentially be applied to protect areas beyond national jurisdiction. The high seas cover almost 50% of our planet and contain the largest amount of living species on earth. Yet this vast area is outside of any nation’s territory and their unique characteristics are currently not protected.

The aim of the expert meeting is to develop an assessment of the potential to apply the concept of Outstanding Universal Value to areas beyond national jurisdiction. The meeting brings together top scientists from around the world trained in both High Seas law and policy as well as marine biology. The results obtained through this work will be first presented to the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in July 2016.

The work is carried out in response to the recommendations of the 2011 Global Strategy Evaluation and the conclusions of the 2013 IUCN Gap Analysis for marine ecosystems on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The work is made possible with the support of the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation.