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World Heritage Convention

Decision 20 COM IX.C.8-15
Progress Report on the Global Strategy and Thematic Studies: Global Strategy for Natural Heritage

C.1 Expert Meeting on Evaluation of general principles and criteria for nominations of natural World Heritage sites (Pare national de la Vanoise, France, 22 to 24 March 1996)

IX.8 The Committee commended the French authorities for hosting the expert meeting on "Evaluation of general principles and criteria for nominations of natural World Heritage sites" from 22 to 24 March 1996 at the Parc National de la Vanoise (France) and took note of the full report of the meeting presented in Information Document WHC-96/CONF.201/INF.8 in English and French.

IX.9 The Australian Delegation endorsed the results of the La Vanoise meeting and indicated Australia's support for the proposed Global Strategy for Natural Heritage. Australia offered to contribute US$ 20,000 towards the undertaking of such a Strategy.

IX.10 The expert group reviewed the natural heritage concepts, the coverage of natural sites on the World Heritage List as well as its balance, manageability and credibility.

IX.11 The expert group emphasized the unifying concept of World Heritage embracing both cultural and natural heritage as outlined in the text of the Convention and the need for an overarching Global Strategy for both natural and cultural heritage. As a result of the discussions, the experts recommended changes to the Operational Guidelines, which were presented in Working Document WHC-96/CONF.201/18.

IX.12 The Committee recalled that the Bureau at its twentieth session did not discuss the recommendations of the experts in detail and that a Circular Letter No. 5/96 was sent to all States Parties of the World Heritage Convention together with the report of the expert meeting. The Secretariat informed the Committee that replies to this Circular Letter were received from the following States Parties: Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Ireland, Lebanon, Morocco, Niger, Norway, Pakistan, Spain and Switzerland, as well as by ICOMOS Poland.

IX.13 The Committee took note that the replies were of quite substantive nature and that general agreement and support for the recommendations were expressed by Colombia, Croatia, Ireland, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Spain and Switzerland. Several States Parties underlined however, the complexity of the issue, in particular the problem of the application of "outstanding universal value", the usefulness of one set of criteria, the definition of universal beauty and the application of the conditions of integrity to all sites.

IX.14 Several delegates commented on the report of La Vanoise and indicated that the interaction between culture and nature is in the spirit of the Convention and that the report of the experts is extremely interesting. There is however a more in-depth discussion needed on (a) the application of the "conditions of integrity" versus the "test of authenticity", (b) the question of a unified or a harmonized set of criteria, and (c) the notion of outstanding universal value and its application in different regional and cultural contexts. The Delegate of Italy proposed to involve other experts and offered to select experts from his country.

IX.15 The Delegate of Canada proposed a truly joint meeting of cultural and natural heritage experts to consider these questions and to ensure that all advisory bodies be involved. This proposal was adopted.

Decision Code
20 COM IX.C.8-15
Credibility of the World Heritage List, Operational Guidelines, Reports