Keep World Heritage standards high

19 June 2011 | News story

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee opens its annual meeting in Paris today. The Committee will announce the new remarkable natural and cultural areas that have made it to the list of World Heritage Sites. A total of 42 sites are considered for inscription this year.

IUCN, the advisory body on natural sites, will present its expert recommendations to the Committee for the new iconic natural areas to be added to the prestigious list. 13 sites have been nominated for inscription for their natural values.

“The World Heritage Convention will be turning 40 next year,” says IUCN’s Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “We see this as an opportunity to celebrate its success but also carry out some much needed reforms to strengthen its unique role in securing the conservation of these exceptional places and their contribution to sustainable development.”

“There have been concerns about growing politicization within the Convention,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “This meeting is important to both reinforce the Convention’s reputation for the highest technical standards, and to take decisions that will maximize conservation results on the ground.”

At the Committee meeting IUCN will also be reporting back on monitoring missions it conducted to 16 World Heritage Sites in 2010 and 2011 and will recommend those under the most severe threat to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. At the meeting IUCN will also issue its position on mining within World Heritage Sites.

“Natural World Heritage Sites represent a commitment to future generations that the international community needs to uphold,” says Mariam Kenza Ali, World Heritage Conservation Officer at IUCN. “In order to do this, mineral and oil and gas exploration should not be permitted within World Heritage Sites because of the serious and irreversible damage that could be caused to the Outstanding Universal Value of the world’s most important natural areas.”

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
• Borjana Pervan, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 857 4072, e borjana.pervan@iucn.org
• Brian Thomson, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 721 8326, e brian.thomson@iucn.org