Advisor on World Heritage

IUCN co-drafted the World Heritage Convention text with UNESCO in 1972 and is explicitly recognised within the Convention as the technical Advisory Body on nature to the World Heritage Committee.

IUCN at 37COM 46th session of the World Heritage Committee Photo: IUCN
component separator

Our role under the World Heritage Convention

IUCN evaluates all natural and 'mixed' sites nominated for World Heritage status, and contributes to evaluations of certain cultural landscapes.

IUCN monitors the state of conservation of existing World Heritage sites.

IUCN provides advice to States Parties regarding natural World Heritage sites, and our advice serves to guide the decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee.

To help maintain the highest possible standards in our delivery, IUCN's work on World Heritage is guided by three fundamental principles:

  1. Partnership is paramount. All our activities are carried out in partnership with other organizations and stakeholders, particularly the World Heritage Centre, the other advisory bodies to the Convention (ICOMOS and ICCROM), and State Parties.

  2. Sound science is essential. One of the Union's major strengths is its high level of scientific credibility, consistency and objectivity. We maintain this by drawing on the expertise of our scientific networks – particularly the WCPA and UNEP WCMC.

  3. Problems require practical solutions. An important part of our work is to identify threats to World Heritage sites, but we aim to go beyond mere reporting to seeking practical and innovative solutions to address these threats.

In its work on World Heritage, IUCN implements initiatives to enhance the role of the World Heritage Convention in protecting the planet’s biodiversity, and to promote effective use of its mechanisms to strengthen the conservation and management of natural World Heritage sites.

IUCN was instrumental in founding the 1972 World Heritage Convention. It was at the 1966 IUCN General Assembly (which has now evolved into the IUCN World Conservation Congress) that the idea of a "World Heritage Trust" was first expressed on the international stage. IUCN went on to draft the Convention together with UNESCO and has since been explicitly recognised as the technical Advisory Body on nature to the World Heritage Committee.


20th anniversary of the founding of IUCN (Septembre 1968) 20th anniversary of the founding of IUCN (Septembre 1968) celebrated at UNESCO headquaters Photo: IUCN Photo Library / © UNESCO / R. Lesage

The idea of a "World Heritage Trust" was first expressed on the international stage at the 1966 IUCN General Assembly.

World Heritage: A Whole Union Effort

To fulfil its role as Advisory Body, IUCN works closely with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The IUCN World Heritage Team works in close collaboration with IUCN’s networks of experts – including the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Species Survival Commission (SSC), as well as with other IUCN programmatic teams, regional and country offices. 

The World Heritage Team also works together with a wide variety of partners, including UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), the MAVA Foundation, the African World Heritage Fund, the Christensen Fund, the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the German International Cooperation (GIZ), the Norwegian Ministry for Climate and the Environment, the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, and Our Place World Heritage Collection.