Ahead of biodiversity COP15, Norway renews its support to UNESCO World Heritage in Africa
While countries start their last sprint for this decade’s UN biodiversity targets (COP15), UNESCO and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sign a new four-year (2022-2025) Programme Cooperation Agreement. Norway’s support of NOK 25 million to the World Heritage Fund makes a significant contribution to safeguarding of the unique biodiversity and rich cultural heritage of Africa.
Scientists have repeatedly warned that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, posing a major risk to human survival. The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) started on 7 December 2022 and is set to adopt a new post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which will set global targets to halt and reverse the erosion of biodiversity.
Funding for conserving ecosystems while also upholding human rights will be among the key topics Parties will negotiate at COP15. The World Heritage Committee has called on all States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to actively engage in this framework, including through the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
Norway’s support to UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa will help enhance the conservation and management of some of the most biodiverse areas on Earth. Among the threatened species on the IUCN Red List, UNESCO World Heritage sites are home to almost 40% of all African elephants and 80% of all mountain gorillas left on the planet.
Since 2019, Norway has been amongst the top donors to UNESCO and the World Heritage Fund, allowing predictable and long-term support to safeguarding World Heritage in Africa, in particular natural sites and sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Funded activities enhance their management and contribute to sustainable development of communities.
Currently, 11 of the 44 (25 %) African UNESCO World Heritage sites recognized for their outstanding natural value are inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Many are in conflict and post-conflict areas, which creates very specific challenges for their conservation.
The impact of climate change is an additional conservation challenge for all types of heritage, with glaciers in all UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa likely to be gone by 2050, including Kilimanjaro National Park and Mount Kenya, a recent UNESCO report finds. World Heritage forests notably in the Congo Basin in turn are significant carbon stores to mitigate climate change.
Learn more about the UNESCO World Heritage projects funded by Norway here: