Every three years, managers of the 50 marine sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List come together to share their best practices, discuss solutions, and forge a path forward together. The 5th edition will be held in the Wadden Sea (Denmark, Netherlands, Germany) from 18 to 22 September 2023.
World Heritage marine managers all face similar challenges in protecting their special ocean place from climate change, unsustainable or illegal fisheries, coastal development, marine pollution, or other threats. But they also share a wealth of solutions and best practices on how to deal with these challenges. Bringing these success stories together in ways that make them suitable for replication in other marine areas is a central part of the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme’s work.
As local guardians of the world’s most iconic marine protected areas, site managers have confronted every imaginable problem facing our oceans and many created leading edge solutions. Without sharing solutions, actions to similar problems often start over again, each time making the same mistakes that could have been prevented if experience and expertise is exchanged. With the ocean facing existential problems, World Heritage marine sites can no longer afford this ineffective, costly and time-consuming way of doing business.
This 5th conference builds on previous editions held in Hawaii, USA (2010), Scandola Reserve, France (2013), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (2016), and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, USA (2019).The Wadden Sea World Heritage area is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. The transnational site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009 and is jointly managed by Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany. The site features a multitude of habitats with tidal channels, sandy shoals, sea-grass meadows, mussel beds, sandbars, mudflats, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches and dunes. The Wadden Sea has one of the highest biomass productivity levels which is most significantly demonstrated in the numbers of fish, shellfish and birds present in the site. At a global scale, Wadden Sea serves as a crucial stop over for millions of migratory birds along some of the world’s largest Flyways.