Story | 23 Jan, 2018

IUCN reviews eight World Heritage nominations for 2018

The IUCN World Heritage Panel recently gathered in Gland, Switzerland to review eight natural areas nominated for potential inscription on the World Heritage List in 2018. Among these sites, three are in Asia, two in Europe, while the remaining three are located in North America, South America and Africa. One is a proposed extension of an existing site and two are nominated as ‘mixed’ natural and cultural sites.

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Photo: IUCN / Christelle Perruchoud

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the official advisor on nature under the World Heritage Convention, and makes recommendations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee on whether a natural site should be inscribed on the World Heritage List or not. The Committee will consider IUCN’s advice and take final decisions during its annual session taking place from 24 June to 4 July 2018 in Bahrain.

IUCN’s evaluations of nominations are part of a rigorous process where a wide range of information is reviewed. IUCN’s World Heritage Panel is an essential part of this process, ensuring the highest quality of independent advice.

Following the Panel’s meeting in December, IUCN has started to gather more information on a number of the sites proposed for listing in 2018. IUCN’s recommendations will be issued publicly by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre six to four weeks before to the Committee meeting (expected on 14 and 28 May). 

Nominations of natural sites to the World Heritage List in 2018:


  • South Africa, Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains
  • China, Fanjingshan
  • Islamic Republic of Iran, Arasbaran Protected Area
  • Japan, Amami-Oshima Island, Tokunoshima Island, the northern part of Okinawa Island, and Iriomote Island
  • France, Tectono-Volcanic Ensemble of the Chaîne des Puys and Limagne Fault (referred in 2016)
  • Russian Federation, Bikin River Valley (extension of Central Sikhote-Alin)
  • Canada, Pimachiowin Aki (referred in 2016) (mixed site)
  • Colombia, Chiribiquete National Park - “The Maloca of the Jaguars” (mixed site)

Nominations are proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List by States parties which have ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention – a unique conservation instrument protecting natural and cultural heritage considered to be of ‘outstanding universal value’. IUCN evaluates all nominations where natural values are proposed for recognition.

The rigorous process for the evaluation of nominations 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. Nominations of mixed natural and cultural sites are evaluated jointly with the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an advisory body on culture.

The IUCN World Heritage Panel meets annually to review nominations and provide technical and scientific advice to IUCN on its work on World Heritage. It is composed of 12 senior specialists in fields relevant to World Heritage, with experience 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 UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, comparative analyses and other significant material.