WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE
Global action to promote capacity-building, communication, education, out-reach, networking, and public awareness to support implementation of the natural aspects of the World Heritage Convention
The World Heritage Convention was launched by UNESCO in 1972 with a primary mission of identifying cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value throughout the world, and ensuring its protection through international cooperation. The natural World Heritage sites contain important and significant habitats for in situ
conservation of biological diversity and represent ecological and biological-diversity processes of exceptional value for humankind. The raising of awareness for natural World Heritage conservation is of utmost importance for Governments and citizens alike to assure the future of biodiversity, its sustainable use and to enable the implementation of the Convention.
In the above light, an International Task Force meeting to elaborate a five-year strategic action plan for "Capacity Building to Serve Outreach, Natural Heritage Networking, Education, Cooperation and Training" (CONNECT) for World Natural Heritage sites management approved by the twenty-third session of the World Heritage Committee, and financed with income generated by the Self-Financing Programme, was convened at the UNESCO headquarters from 17-20 April 2000.
The Task Force came to a common agreement on the need for actions to promote communication, Public Education and Awareness in natural world heritage conservation to support implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Among the recommendations made by the Task Force include the need to:
- Expand partnerships and increase joint activities with organizations and programmes with shared objectives for conserving natural heritage and further develop substantive working relationships with non-governmental organizations and conventions;
- Place greater emphasis on strengthening international self-help networks of natural protected area practitioners and faculty resources of regional training centres to increase natural heritage management effectiveness;
- Develop effective and systematic delivery systems to assure World Heritage materials actually reach strategic focal points, and, in particular, all natural World Heritage sites, training centres and partners; Increase efforts to directly involve natural World Heritage site personnel in World Heritage activities and decision-making; and @) Develop systematic project performance evaluation mechanisms and incentive programmes (such as a Global Natural World Heritage Conservation Award) to recognize and promote excellence in natural World Heritage achievements.
The major outcomes of the Task Force meeting include the preparation of a strategic plan for CONNECT and elaboration of a proposal for collaborative project with the United Nations Foundation and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) to provide conservation/environmental education in schools and other such institutions near World Natural Heritage sites.
The Task Force elaborated in detail the goals and rationale of the CONNECT programme of the World Heritage Convention; the actors; tools; frameworks for action and action planning process; priorities for action; and roles and responsibilities.
The World Heritage Convention - “CONNECT” Programme, will enhance the global initiative of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on Public Education and Awareness for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
The findings of the CONNECT Task Force meeting, the Strategic Plan and the Programme of Work (2001-2005) will be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-fourth session for consideration and approval.