IUCN’s World Heritage Panel gathered last December to consider 12 files for possible inscriptions of natural sites on the World Heritage List in 2016. This includes proposals for boundary changes in two natural World Heritage sites in Russia. As the official Advisory Body on natural World Heritage, IUCN will issue its recommendations six weeks before UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey from 10 to 20 July 2016.
A total of 10 candidate sites across the globe have been nominated for consideration as new natural or mixed (both natural and cultural) sites on the World Heritage List. These include Iran’s Lut Desert and Chad’s Massif de l’Ennedi, which were identified as potential priorities for World Heritage status in a 2011 IUCN study on desert landscapes.
Two existing natural World Heritage sites have also been put forward for significant boundary modifications by the Russian Federation, including Western Caucasus, inscribed in 1999, and Virgin Komi Forests, inscribed in 1995.
List of 2016 nominations for natural or mixed World Heritage (alphabetically, by country)
Canada, Pimachiowin Aki (mixed site)
Canada, Mistaken Point
Chad, Massif de l’Ennedi : paysage naturel et culturel (mixed site)
China, Hubei Shennongjia
India, Khangchendzonga National Park (mixed site)
Iran, Lut Desert
Iraq, The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: refuge of biodiversity and the relict landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (mixed site)
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Western Tien-Shan
Mexico, Archipiélago de Revillagigedo
Russian Federation, Western Caucasus (Significant boundary modification)
Russian Federation, Virgin Komi Forests (Significant boundary modification)
Turkmenistan, Mountain Ecosystems of Koytendag
IUCN makes recommendations on all matters related to natural World Heritage to the decision-making World Heritage Committee. As such, IUCN is responsible for evaluating nominations for new inscriptions or boundary changes of natural sites on the World Heritage List.
The rigorous evaluation process involves field missions and desk reviews, as well as consultation at the international, regional and local level. IUCN consults widely with experts who have relevant knowledge of the sites or the natural values they represent.
The IUCN World Heritage Panel is essential to this process. It meets annually to provide technical and scientific advice to IUCN on its work on World Heritage, ensuring the highest quality of recommendations is provided to the World Heritage Committee.
The panel is composed by 12 conservation experts specialized in fields relevant to the World Heritage process, regionally and on the ground. Their collective expertise, together with the knowledge provided by independent field evaluators, covers all major technical aspects of a nomination’s evaluation.
Before a recommendation can be made by IUCN, a wide range of information is reviewed, including nomination dossiers and supporting information provided by the State Party, field missions carried out by independent experts, data supplied by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, comparative analyses and other significant material.
In line with UNESCO procedures, IUCN’s recommendations remain confidential until six weeks prior to the World Heritage Committee meeting. This year, the 40th Committee meeting will take place in Istanbul, Turkey from 10 to 20 July 2016. Recommendations by the advisory bodies are expected to be made public by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre at the end of May.