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Decision 23 COM IX.1-12
Periodic Reporting: Regional Strategies for Periodic Reporting

IX.1 The Secretariat presented the Working Document WHC-99/CONF.209/12 that contains the Action Plan for the Arab region which should be completed by December 2000, and the periodic reporting exercise for the African States that should be completed by December 2001.

IX.2 Particular mention was made of the links with the implementation of the Global Strategy. The periodic monitoring exercise would help States Parties to recognize their insufficiencies in the field of conservation and facilitate the identification of their needs. The managers of the sites will be trained and ultimately regional expert networks will be strengthened.

IX.3 In the Arab States, eighteen States Parties will have to prepare reports concerning forty-four sites (41 cultural, one mixed and two natural). The exercise for the Arab region which should be completely finalised over a period of less than eleven months, comprises the following stages:

- an analysis of information available to UNESCO and the advisory bodies (nomination files, statutory reports, mission reports, etc.);

- an information and training phase for responsible nationals in charge of the preparation of the reports of their countries (regional seminar, preparatory work, national seminars);

- preparatory phase for national reports to be attended by international consultants to assist States Parties;

- a phase for the synthesis of reports and the preparation of the regional report which should be ready by September 2000 for submission to the twenty-fourth session of the World Heritage Committee. This exercise in the Arab region, which will serve as a useful example for the other regions, will permit the (i) harmonisation of national tentative lists; (ii) validation of the use of this exercise for the revision of early nomination files, incomplete in comparison to the new format; (iii) testing the questionnaires of the exercise in a continuum way; (iv) verification of the criteria concerning the sites; (v) identification of the regional and national priorities in terms of international co-operation. Finally, it will allow the Secretariat to improve its information on the sites inscribed and will also be beneficial to States Parties.

IX.4 In Africa, eighteen States Parties will have to prepare reports concerning forty sites, twenty-three of which are natural, sixteen cultural and one mixed. The exercise for Africa was conceived in seven stages that have been established in a participatory manner to involve States Parties and site managers, thereby ensuring a training character to the preparation of the final report.

Stage I: Preparation and dispatch of a specific form to draw the attention of States Parties to the monitoring issue and to obtain a first input of information relating to the implementation of the Convention.

Stage II: Collection of preliminary results and elaboration of regional workshop programmes, to process the resulting information into a data base and to identify specific information which should be provided to each site manager during the training seminars.

Stage III: Organization of two regional training seminars: Anglophone and Francophone Africa, which will convene managers of both natural and cultural site. During these workshops, they will:

  • present their sites and identify common issues;
  • have the opportunity to discuss the methodology of the exercise;
  • obtain additional information for the completion of the forms for each site.

These three stages should be completed by autumn 2000.

Stage IV: Exchange of additional information with site managers, before reception of the final version of the forms.

Stage V: Analysis of the forms to compare the site in situ between the time of inscription and the present; define minimal methods for regular monitoring, identify the involvement of local populations in the management of the sites and identify the site issues.

Stage VI: Identification of fragile sites and study missions (2001).

Stage VII: Completion of the final report and dissemination of the exercise, and submission of the report to the Committee for 2001. The periodic report will constitute a reflection of the situation. In a continent where the collection, analysis and stockage of information is often difficult, the emphasis will be placed on understanding the conservation process, the importance of collecting of information and its presentation and use, rather than on the exhaustive research for information.

IX.5 During these discussions, fourteen speakers took the floor, including the three advisory bodies and congratulated the Secretariat for the clarity of the document, its conception and the transparency of the proposed budget. The importance of the participatory approach and the importance given to training were also emphasized. However, the speakers insisted upon the need to continue the exercise, to establish a cumulative process, the importance of the documentation, the identification of key indicators, the implication of the local populations, and public awareness raising. They commented that this exercise should also include a communication plan. They requested that the role of the advisory bodies be defined.

IX.6 The Representative of IUCN informed the Committee that the systematic approach to periodic reporting on a regional basis is a very positive initiative but IUCN, as one of advisory bodies named in the Convention, is unclear as to what role, if any, it is expected to play in the periodic reporting process. The role of the advisory bodies in reactive monitoring is clear from the Operational Guidelines. He stated for example that the material on the process in Arab States as well as in Africa does not make any mention of the advisory bodies. With these first regional strategies, IUCN thought that it was very important that the Committee indicates clearly whether the advisory bodies have a role to play in the regions, as it will establish a pattern for the future. IUCN informed the Committee that it has rich experience in association with States Parties that it could bring to bear on periodic reporting. He recalled the statements made by several delegates that stressed the value of IUCN's input. The Representative of IUCN further noted that the involvement of the advisory bodies would have resource implications. Moreover, IUCN is working towards the World Parks Congress (held every ten years) to be convened in Durban, South Africa in September 2002, and IUCN is planning two regional working sessions in Africa - one for Francophone Africa and the other for Anglophone Africa during 2001.

IX.7 The views of IUCN were supported by ICOMOS and ICCROM and fully endorsed by several delegates. ICOMOS specifically stressed the importance of regional monitoring and stated that the periodic reporting exercise should be considered as a formative one where site managers can be trained, and called for more liaison with the with the advisory bodies in view of their experience in producing Guidelines. In reference to remarks made by several delegates on the Reference Manual for Monitoring, ICCROM clarified the place of the manual in the periodic reporting process. The Representative of ICCROM stated that the Committee had allocated US$8,000 to ICCROM in December 1998 to begin the development of a Reference Manual for Monitoring. ICCROM organized two meetings in 1999 with experts representing the advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre, to develop an approach for preparing the manual. The purpose of the Manual is to provide guidance to site managers at the local level, a target that is recognized as important in the process of periodic reporting by several delegates. ICCROM has been working with the other advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre in the development of the Manual, that has been designed to be a useful scientific reference tool for site managers at all levels of responsibility in carrying out their duties. ICCROM has submitted a request of US$16,000 to the current session of the Committee in order to finalize the Manual, an initiative that should be considered as complementary to the Centre's presentation.

IX.8 Several delegates stressed the importance of establishing benchmarks and indicators and while these may be established at the site level, the monitoring process should not be an end in itself, but should serve different levels of the citizenry, and should be forward-looking with a well defined objective.

IX.9 Committee members stressed that the periodic monitoring exercise should be targeted primarily to involve the States Parties and site managers, and that putting the process into the hands of the local managers would render it more useful. It was emphasized that the local population should be involved as much as possible since their participation is critical to the conservation of heritage.

IX.10 At the end of the debate, precisions and clarifications were provided by the Secretariat which has committed to reflect in the forms which will be sent to States Parties, the remarks made by the Committee.

IX.11 The Committee requested the Secretariat to take note of the proposal to invite the participation of the UNEP/PAM Programme 100 historical sites in the exercise to benefit from the resources and gain experience.

IX.12 The Committee approved the methodology, the action plan of the Arab region, as well as the strategic approach of the exercise for the African region. It took note of the budgetary proposals for 2000 that will be processed during the examination of the work plan and budget of the World Heritage Fund.

Decision Code
23 COM IX.1-12
Periodic Reporting, Reports
Report of the rapporteur
Context of Decision