Contrary to the traditional country-by-country approach, marine World Heritage requires reflection of marine features at larger scales meaningful from an ecosystem perspective. Marine ecosystems almost always transcend national boundaries.

In anticipation of increased interest globally in designating new marine World Heritage sites, this project was established to test a more scientific and robust approach to identify marine sites of potential Outstanding Universal Value. The project initiated a new approach in the Western Indian Ocean, an area largely under the jurisdiction of African countries and with unique and age-old geological processes currently under-represented on the World Heritage List. This rerport builds on previous efforts to navigate a long-term future for the World Heritage Marine Programme and to facilitate the process of replicating regional assessments in other marine regions which are also under- or non-represented on the World Heritage List.