From 4 to 9 September, managers from the 50 marine sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List gather in a momentous setting to discuss challenges and solutions toward reaching the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. With the oceans facing existential threats and global targets only a decade away, time is critical. Bringing managers together provides an opportunity to accelerate conservation successes and prevent costly mistakes that could have been avoided if knowledge was shared.

Across the globe, marine World Heritage sites are under increasing pressure from the effects of climate change. Rising sea levels, heat waves and extreme weather events have a growing impact on habitat and wildlife. Climate change effects further exacerbate the already existing stressors such as overfishing, ship pollution, or declining water quality in a mix of cumulative impacts of which the true extent is yet to be discovered.

But despite growing challenges, managers from these flagship marine protected areas share a wealth of best practices and solutions about what works and what doesn’t in ocean conservation. Collectively, they have faced every imaginable threat to the ocean and hold a unparalleled reservoir of experience on how to deal with them. As Unesco World Heritage sites - having received the highest international recognition for conservation - they are uniquely positioned to help chart a course forward toward reaching the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development agenda.

During the 4-day gathering, representatives from 37 different nations including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Sanganeb/Dungonab in Sudan, Fernando de Noronha in Brazil and the Southern Lagoons in Palau will discuss topics ranging from establishing successful private-public partnerships, climate resilience and adaptation, cooperation with indigenous communities, the use of satellite & space technology and the growing problem of plastics and marine debris.

Speakers include Patrick Dunagan, Director at the Paul Allen philanthropic organization Vulcan Inc and Claire Bonham-Carter, Sustainable Director at AECOM. The conference is organized with the support of the ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the governments of Australia, France and Belgium (Flanders), Carnival Corporation, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and Alaska Geographic. The conference will take place in the Tribal House of the indigenous community of the Huna Tlingit at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, USA, in collaboration with the National Park Service.