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Lucien Chabason

Oral Archives of the
World Heritage Convention

Lucien Chabason, a French specialist in environmental conservation, completed his studies in law, sociology and political science before obtaining a diploma from the Ecole Nationale d'Administration.

He began a career in the public service in the 1970s in the French Ministry of the Environment, where he was responsible for the conservation and development of sites and landscapes. In 1994, he joined the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as coordinator of the Mediterranean Action Plan (based in Athens) and as Director of the Secretariat of the Barcelona Convention in 2003. Since then, Lucien Chabason has been an adviser to the management of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and Chairman of the Blue Plan for the Mediterranean. He is also "Guarantor of consultation" for the Paris-Saclay Public Building. His recent publications include Regards sur la Terre 2008 - Dossier: Biodiversity, Nature and Development (Presses de Sciences Po, 2007) and Regional Oceans Governance: Making Regional Seas Programs, Regional Fishery Bodies and Large Marine Ecosystem Mechanisms Work Better Together (UNEP, 2016).

Lucien Chabason was a member of the French delegation to the World Heritage Committee from 1979 to 1986. He participated in the Working Group for the Elaboration of Natural Criteria in 1979 and served as Rapporteur for the 1984 Session of the Committee in Buenos Aires. It was at this same session that he raised his concerns about the gap between monumental cultural heritage and vast wilderness spaces by proposing his ideas on rural landscapes. The discussion that followed led to eight years of reflection on the current concept of cultural landscapes. Because of his lasting interest in landscapes, Lucien Chabason was invited by UNESCO to the meeting of experts of La Petite-Pierre in 1992 during which guidelines were drawn up for the definition and categorization of cultural landscapes.

Interview with
Lucien Chabason
2 October 2012, Paris, France

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Lucien Chabason by Christina Cameron and Petra van den Born 2 October 2012 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The memories of Lucien Chabason offer a very instructive perspective on the early years of the Convention and the emergence of the notion of cultural landscape. In addition, his reflections on the articulation of concepts of nature and culture, IUCN's conservation doctrine and the challenges of integrating communities into the management of national parks help to put the World Heritage Convention in its broader historical context.

  • 1. The World Heritage Convention
  • 1a. Involvement and participation of Lucien Chabason in World Heritage: introduction of the concept of rural / cultural landscapes
  • 1b. The World Heritage List
  • 1c. Key moments and decisions for the implementation of the Convention
  • 2. The World Heritage Committee
  • 3. The advisory bodies
  • 3a. Comments on IUCN and ICOMOS
  • 3b. IUCN Doctrine
  • 4. The UNESCO Secretariat: predominance of culture
  • 5. International cooperation, financing and development of World Heritage sites
  • 6. Challenges to National Parks management
  • 7. The List of World Heritage in Danger: An ambiguous tool

Oral Archives of the
World Heritage Convention

Under the leadership of the Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage at the University of Montreal, an international team of researchers conducts interviews with pioneers of World Heritage to capture memories of important moments in the history of UNESCO Convention.

Launched in 2006, this initiative is part of the UNESCO History project that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the creation of UNESCO. The Oral Archives project records the precious witness of people closely associated with the creation and implementation of the Convention. Their recollections and views have greatly enriched the book by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler, Many Voices, One Vision: The Early Years of the World Heritage Convention (Ashgate/Routledge, 2013).

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Keywords 1
Date Start: Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Date end: Tuesday, 2 October 2012