James Bond and World Heritage

30 July 2010 | Article

Just recently, I heard someone describe the World Heritage Committee meeting as having all the intrigue of a James Bond movie, but with none of its action. That's the impression of Mariam Kenza Ali with IUCN´s World Heritage Programme.

I promptly started choking on my diet pepsi, but then realized it wasn’t that far from the truth. Political intrigue replaces normal air here, and while thankfully car chases and shoot outs are kept to a strict minimum, corridor chats (and chases) and overly strong handshakes abound.

It was during a corridor chat with the St Lucia delegation that IUCN got some good news. St Lucia, a tiny jewel of an island in the Caribbean, put a moratorium on all new hotel and housing developments within its only World Heritage site – the Pitons Management Area (PMA) – as a result of a recent IUCN/UNESCO mission in March.

Previously, IUCN was set to recommend immediate Danger Listing for the PMA because of the uncontrolled real estate development rapidly destroying the forested landscape of its twin volcanic peaks. Development which was unfortunately linked to the site’s newly-acquired World Heritage status and notoriety.

Thanks to the moratorium, there’s a chance that St Lucia’s spectacular steep forests will be around for future generations to enjoy, and could once again feature in an action-packed James Bond movie.