Bernd von Droste studied forestry at the University of Göttingen and then at the University of Munich, Germany, where he completed his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology in 1969.
He joined UNESCO in 1973 as Director of the Division Ecological Sciences and Secretary of the Intergovernmental Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) from 1983 to 1991. In 1976 he volunteered to provide the Secretariat for the natural component of the World Heritage Convention. In 1992, he became the first Director of the World Heritage Centre.
After his retirement in 1999, he served as an adviser to UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture and as an independent expert at the European Commission. In 2002, he also received the title of honorary professor at the Viadrina European University in Frankfurt-on-Oder, where he still teaches. Bernd von Droste, a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas for over twenty years, has advised many countries and international organizations on various aspects of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Among his publications are "A Gift from the Past to the Future: Natural and Cultural World Heritage", published in Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO: 1945-2005 (UNESCO, 2006) and Cultural Landscapes of Universal Value. Components of a Global Strategy (Fischer Verlag, 1995).
The following audio excerpts are from two interviews conducted with Bernd von Droste by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler the 5 April 2007 and 1st February 2008 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. He describes his involvement and role in the UNESCO Secretariat and his vision for the World Heritage Centre. He also highlights the inevitable political issues linked to the Convention, which he illustrates with numerous concrete examples. Finally, he critically observes the challenges of an ever-expanding World Heritage List and comments on the performance of the advisory bodies.
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).