African National Focal Points for Periodic Reporting finalize Third Cycle Draft Regional Action Plan
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC), in collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) and the UNESCO Field Offices in Africa, organized an regional workshop from 17 to 19 February 2021, where National Focal Points from the Africa region participated online.
Following the submission of the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting questionnaires in July 2020 and several consultations with World Heritage site managers and African heritage experts of the Africa region and their recommendations and analysis were presented to the National Focal Points for discussion and debates during the workshop.
During the 3 days of exchanges between National Focal Points, the analysis of the preliminary results of the submitted questionnaires, and identification of the strategic objectives for the coming years were used to frame the final draft Third Cycle Action Plan for the Africa region. This proposed Draft Action Plan (2022-2027) will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee for approval at its 44th extended session this year.
Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO WHC, opened the workshop by congratulating the group on the 100% submission of the Periodic Reporting online questionnaires in the Africa Region. She drew attention to the African Union’s 2021 theme of “Art, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want” and emphasised that this theme “is a testimony of how the Africa Union values culture and heritage as an enabler of sustainable development for the African continent”. Ms Rössler expressed her satisfaction that the draft Action Plan meets the objectives of UNESCO’s Global Priority Africa and allows African States Parties to fully implement the Convention, Aspiration 5 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The 4 Directors from the UNESCO Regional Field Offices in Africa region also joined the workshop. Mr Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director for Southern Africa and Representative to SADC, emphasised the need to strengthen regional cooperation in order to ensure the effective protection of culture and heritage. Ms Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Regional Director for Eastern Africa, urged participants to continue their focus on increasing the involvement of local and indigenous communities, as well as youth, in key World Heritage issues. Mr Khaled Salah, Regional Director for Central Africa, expressed his confidence that the Workshop will greatly help to strengthen capacities of States Parties and develop more sustainable conservation measures for World Heritage sites in Africa. Finally, Mr Dimitri Sanga, Regional Director a.i, for Western Africa, highlighted the opportunity provided by the African Union’s 2021 theme to promote heritage issues in the region. Mr Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the African World Heritage Fund underlined the Directors’ message and asked the National Focal Points to be ambitious by proposing actions that will mark the Third Cycle Action Plan.
Preparation of the Draft Action Plan: 3 days of intensive and fruitful discussions between National Focal Points, Advisory Bodies and AWHF.
During the first day of the workshop, WHC and AWHF made several presentations on the Third Cycle Periodic Reporting exercise in Africa, the main results of analysis of the implementation of the 1972 Convention at the State Party and World Heritage property level and the outcomes of the Monitoring Indicators for the region.
On the second day of the workshop, the draft Action Plan was presented and discussed. National Focal Points were then invited to join one of the 5 groups dedicated to one of the strategic objectives. During this stage of the workshop, National Focal Points also had the opportunity to contribute to the actions in the draft Action Plan.
On the last day of the workshop, the Third Cycle draft Action Plan was fully endorsed by National Focal Points. Further the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS, IUCN, ICCROM), the AWHF, and the UNESCO WHC reaffirmed their support towards the implementation of the draft Action Plan after its adoption and recommendations by the World Heritage Committee.
After fruitful discussions during which participants actively contributed to the final version of the draft Action Plan, National Focal Points from across the region expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to contribute to this important process:
“I would like to express my congratulations to the coordination team, the AWHF, and the WHC for the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting exercise and to this proposed six-year Action Plan for Africa. The series of workshops gave me wonderful opportunities to share experiences with my counterparts. Congratulations again!”
—Mr Medhanie T. Maryam (Eritrea)
“This Draft Action Plan 2021-2027 is the fruitful collaborative result of the active and inclusive participation of the African States Parties, UNESCO, AWHF, ICCROM and heritage experts with huge experience and with dedicated commitment to the cause of World Heritage.
For Mauritius, SIDS and countries of the region, this Third Cycle Action Plan will be a very useful tool and unique opportunity for the putting in place of systems and initiatives to further the cultural heritage cause in sustainably protecting and promoting our World Heritage sites while empowering the people involved in the upkeeping of these sites as treasures for humanity.
—Mr Arvind Boodhun (Mauritius)
“It was an incredible experience that was made possible by the dedication of the technical team. We will have 6 years to make a difference, following the principle that no one should be left behind.”
—Mr Celio Tiane (Mozambique)
“Grand merci à toute l'équipe de coordination de l'UNESCO du fonds du patrimoine africain et toutes mes félicitations aux points focaux qui ont fait un travail exceptionnel en remplissant le rapport et à superviser le travail des gestionnaires de site malgré tous les obstacles liés au COVID-19. On reste optimiste pour la mise en œuvre ce travail.”
—Mr Seydou N. Kane (Senegal)
“Thank you everyone for a very enriching process with many lessons learnt. I can confirm that Seychelles is fully committed to contribute at its best to the implementation of the Action Plan.”
—Ms Frauke Fleischer-Dogley (Seychelles)
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined document WHC/21/44COM/10B,
- Recalling Decisions 41 COM 10A and 43 COM 10B adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively;
- Notes with satisfaction that all States Parties of the Africa region participated in the completion and submission of Section I (State Party level) and Section II (World Heritage property level) of the Periodic Reporting questionnaire;
- Commends the authorities of South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya for hosting sub-regional workshops for the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting exercise;
- Thanks the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), Regional Coordinator and Mentors, Advisory Bodies as well as the World Heritage Centre for their continuous support throughout the exercise; also thanks all national focal points and World Heritage site managers for their commitment and participation throughout the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting exercise despite the challenging situation of the COVID-19 pandemic;
- Welcomes with satisfaction the Third Cycle Regional Report in the Africa region and encourages all States Parties to widely disseminate among all relevant stakeholders in the region, and takes note of the possible publication of the Third Periodic Report in the Africa region in the World Heritage paper series, if the financial situation permits and encourages States Parties to contribute financially for this purpose;
- Endorses the Third Cycle Regional Action Plan and its five Strategic Objectives recommended by the States Parties following the Final Regional Workshop of February 2021;
- Encourages States Parties to appropriate the Regional Action Plan into their national, sub-regional and regional heritage strategies and requests the World Heritage Centre in collaboration with Advisory Bodies, and other partners, to support States Parties in its implementation;
- Further encourages the States Parties to initiate regular meetings at regional and/or sub-regional level to ensure continuous monitoring in the implementation of the Action Plan;
- Thanks the Governments of China, Flanders (Belgium), France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sultanate of Oman and the European Union for their contributions towards supporting the implementation of the Third Cycle Action Plan in Africa;
- Welcomes the commitment and support of the AWHF to assist the African States Parties in the implementation of the Action Plan and calls upon African States Parties to provide financial and human resource support to the AWHF;
- Further requests the World Heritage Centre to monitor the implementation of the Regional Action Plan in view of preparing a mid-cycle assessment report;
- Finally requests the World Heritage Centre to prepare a progress report on the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting for examination at its 46th session.
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/10A,
- Recalling Decisions 38 COM 5F.2, 39 COM 10B.5, and 40 COM 10A, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions respectively,
- Notes with appreciation the successful implementation of the Reflection Period by the Secretariat, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, and the use of innovative and cost-effective working methods;
- Commends the Periodic Reporting Reflection Expert Group for the extensive and in-depth work carried out;
- Thanks all States Parties who volunteered to participate in the Testing Phase for their active engagement in the Periodic Reporting Reflection;
- Welcomes the recommendations and improvements proposed with regard to the format, content, relevance, analysis and use of data in the Periodic Reporting process;
- Also welcomes the inclusion in the revised questionnaire of questions relating to synergies with other international instruments and programmes on cultural and natural heritage; questions relating to the implementation of the 1972 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Protection, at National level, of the Cultural and Natural Heritage and to the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape, as well as questions assessing the implementation of the World Heritage Policy for integrating a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention, and of other key policies adopted by the World Heritage Committee;
- Further welcomes the development of strengthened and comprehensive indicators to improve follow-up on progress made by State Parties in the implementation of the Convention as well as the 1972 Recommendation concerning the Protection, at National Level, of the Cultural and Natural Heritage, further to the Recommendation of the Evaluation of UNESCO’s Standard-Setting Work of the Culture Sector (Part III – 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage);
- Takes note with appreciation of the analytical framework developed by the Expert Group and decides that it will be used as a global template for the analysis of data, for all regions, during the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting;
- Also takes note of the feasibility study concerning the production of a global World Heritage report and recommends that further work on the format and resourcing of the report be carried out using responses from States Parties and Site Managers in the first years of the Third Cycle;
- Also decides to maintain the order of regions and the 6-year periodicity of the Periodic Reporting cycles, with one region reporting every year (Arab States, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and North America) and one year between cycles for a reflection, if necessary, and for the production of a global report on the basis of the outcomes of the cycle across all regions;
- Further decides to officially launch the Third Cycle (2017-2022), but in view of the need to allow sufficient time for appropriate preparation, by the Secretariat, and by the States Parties of the Arab States region, exceptionally postpones the start of the Periodic Reporting of all regions by one year, starting with the Arab States region in 2018, followed by the Africa region in 2019, and so on;
- Encourages the active engagement of the States Parties in the following reporting cycles, and furthermore decides, that, in view of the current financial and human resources constraints of the World Heritage Centre, its role should consist of ensuring a holistic approach across regions, by providing overall coordination, guidance tools and analysis, as well as facilitating a State Party-driven approach, and invites the States Parties to contribute extrabudgetary resources for this purpose, and further decides, in case the resources are insufficient to ensure continuity, to supplement the funding of an extra-budgetary position from the Periodic Reporting budget line in the World Heritage Fund;
- Approves the revised Chapter V of the Operational Guidelines “Periodic Reporting on the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention” and the revised Annex 7 to the Operational Guidelines, on the Format of the Periodic Reporting Questionnaire, contained in Annex IV of Document WHC/17/41.COM/10A.