Sound science central to World Heritage success - IUCN DG

26 July 2010 | IUCN statement

IUCN's Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, spoke at the opening of the World Heritage Convention's annual meeting in Brasilia. She drew attention to closer ties between the Convention's three advisory bodies.

"As Director-General of IUCN, I am delighted to be here and to have the privilege to provide an introduction on behalf of all three Advisory Bodies to the World Heritage Convention, these being ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites), International Centre for the Study of the Preservataion and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and IUCN."

"I wish to highlight three points from the written reports we have provided."

"Firstly, I reaffirm the Advisory Bodies' strong commitment to the World Heritage Convention, which we view as one of the most important global instruments for protecting cultural and natural heritage. This Convention differs from many others because of the direct relationship it has with exceptional places we know and care about. World Heritage Sites are flagships with a growing relevance to the debates surrounding conservation, sustainable use and development."

"As can be seen from the reports you have in front of you, the commitment of the three Advisory Bodies is evident in the work of our small but hugely motivated teams. In addition to the much appreciated support from the World Heritage Fund, we each contribute significant time and resources of our own, including from our large volunteer technical networks. Through our wider programmes, we all have considerable involvement in World Heritage sites, beyond our formal role under the Convention."

"Secondly I wish to emphasize that sound science is central to the Convention. The Operational Guidelines oblige us to be objective, rigorous, scientific, and consistent. We would not be doing our job if we were not willing, occasionally, to deliver difficult, and even unpopular, advice to this Committee. We consider this exemplary principle of separating technical from political considerations vital to this Convention remaining credible and are proud that the World Heritage Convention entrusts this responsibility to us and to our networks. We also realize the need to provide better and earlier advice to governments that are looking for the support of the Convention, to lead to more successful nominations and to more effective conservation and management."

"Finally, extending our work on World Heritage requires partners. We value our partnership with the World Heritage Centre. Francesco Bandarin, I am delighted at your recognition as UNESCO's Assistant Director General for Culture and we look forward to working with your successor. The three Advisory Bodies are strengthening our longstanding partnerships to make the most of the unique platform this Convention provides to link culture and nature. I am pleased that this year we have further enhanced our collaboration with ICOMOS in the evaluation process, and that ICCROM and IUCN will sign a Memorandum of Understanding later this week to reinforce our joint work on capacity development."

"New partners are joining these efforts, including the Swiss Confederation with its support to new programmes of collaborative work. The MAVA Foundation has also recently provided funds for IUCN’s work on world heritage, including an important focus on Africa. We will be presenting more information on these partnerships later this week, and we encourage others to enable us and our networks to contribute even more fully to realizing the potential of the World Heritage Convention."