A joint workshop on Global Marine World Heritage site selection and World Heritage and Marine Protected Areas in the Gulf and the Red Sea 24-26 February 2009, Bahrain
The World Heritage Marine programme was launched by the World Heritage Committee in 2005 with the aim to safeguard the world's marine natural heritage and to use the World Heritage Convention to promote large-scale marine conservation, develop strategic partnerships, strengthen conservation capacity and ensure that World Heritage Sites act as models of best practice benefiting wider marine conservation.
Almost 200 of the 878 World Heritage Sites are listed for their natural values and 37 are protected for their marine biodiversity values. Through the implementation and development of the World Heritage Marine Programme, the World Heritage Convention is also increasingly recognised as playing a key role in achieving wider objectives for global marine conservation, including commitments in the Convention on Biological Diversity on protection of marine areas.
World Heritage is seen as a key element in the Marine Plan of Action of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). Marine sites are also considered an area of potential for future nominations of World Heritage properties in the Arab States region. A number of such initiatives are currently under discussion in the region.
A partnership of UNESCO World Heritage Centre, IUCN-WCPA and the Kingdom of Bahrain is organising a workshop of global and regional marine experts to train and build capacity on World Heritage. The workshop will include two parallel streams:
- initiating a global process to identify potential marine World Heritage Sites and
- reviewing and prioritising marine World Heritage and marine protected area potential in the Gulf and Red Sea.
Further regional partners are invited to join with this initiative. The workshop will be held from 24-26 February 2009 in Bahrain, and will bring together IUCN WCPA-Marine regional coordinators from up to 18 global regions, international experts, and individuals and authorities on marine conservation and management in the Gulf and Red Sea sub-region. A total of up to 40 participants is envisaged, comprising 50% global experts and 50% regional experts.
The three day workshop will include:
- Day 1 – Introduction to the World Heritage Convention, and global and regional activities on marine protected areas.
- Day 2 – parallel sessions with (a) global experts focussed on identifying and prioritising global World Heritage listing proposals and initiating a review process that will be reported to the global IMPAC conference to be held in Washington later in 2009 and (b) regional experts identifying potential for support for the development of marine protected areas in the Gulf and Red Sea under the World Heritage Convention, and instruments such as Ramsar Convention and the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme.
- Day 3 – continued parallel sessions and plenary discussion to bring together the results of the parallel workshops and identify next steps and action points. $
The results of the workshop are expected to accelerate the recognition of marine protected areas within the World Heritage Convention and other related protected area initiatives at global and regional levels. A workshop report will be published and reported to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, and will assist the future targeting of marine activities by UNESCO and IUCN.