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Managing World Heritage sites for the next 50 years: Outcomes of the first online session of the 5th World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum

Monday, 26 June 2023 at 10:00
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The 5th World Heritage Site Managers' Forum (WHSMF23), in conjunction with the 45th extended session of the World Heritage Committee, started its first online session on 19 June 2023. This year's Forum, with the theme "Managing World Heritage for the Next 50 Years" is being hosted by the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the National Committee and the Heritage Commission, in collaboration with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadesgip Programme IUCN. The online session, held from 12:00-15:00 CET, marked the beginning of the event, which will be conducted both online and in-person.

This year, the Forum welcomed an attendance of over 100 participants from 63 countries representing all regions. The session was opened with addresses from Jasir Al-Herbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission, on the behalf of the the host country, Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director of World Heritage at UNESCO,  as well as representatives from the Advisory Bodies including Webber Ndoro, Director-General of ICCROM, Teresa Patricio, President of ICOMOS International, and Radhika Murti, Director of the IUCN Centre for Society and Governance. The session further featured an introduction to WHSMF23 by the joint organizers, an overview of the World Heritage system, presentations from the Advisory Bodies, an explanation of State of Conservation and Monitoring processes, a segment on navigating World Heritage acronyms, and an introduction to World Heritage tools and resources. The session concluded with a question and answer session and closing remarks.

The World Heritage Site Managers' Forum was established in 2017 during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee and has since become an integral part of the World Heritage Committee sessions.

The Forum with the theme "Managing World Heritage for the Next 50 Years," provides an opportunity for participants to reflect on the achievements of the past five decades and address the challenges that lie ahead in the next 50 years. The Forum is focused on the following six knowledge areas:

  1. World Heritage basics, principles, processes, and actors;
  2. World Heritage management, enhancing resilience and sustainability;
  3. Managing changes in the coming decades: impact assessment for World Heritage;
  4. Risk management and building resilience;
  5. Climate change and its impact on World Heritage properties;
  6. Digital technologies for monitoring and conservation of World Heritage properties

The objectives of this 2023 edition of the World Heritage Site Managers' Forum include promoting international cooperation among site managers, supporting the conservation of heritage, strengthening the network of site managers, assisting them in harnessing the potential of World Heritage properties for sustainable development, and advocating policies and frameworks that support the protection and management of cultural and natural heritage.

Format of the Forum:

The Forum's format this year comprises both online and in-person components. The online sessions are scheduled for 19 June, 4 July, and 13 July, 2023, while the in-person component will take place in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from September 10 to 16, 2023. Participants are expected to attend both components.

The 5th World Heritage Site Managers' Forum continues to serve as a significant platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and planning for the preservation and management of World Heritage.