Heritage Heroes

The Heritage Heroes award ran in 2016 as a public voting campaign recognising exceptional people protecting natural World Heritage. Gathering three nominees at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai'i, it resonated as both a celebration of the places and people that inspire us, and a wake-up call on the reality of threats on the ground.

Heritage Heroes 2016 congress The Heritage Heroes in the presence of Mechtild Rossler, then Director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre Photo: IUCN/Maegan Gindi

The Heritage Heroes award aimed to recognise the outstanding efforts of a few brave people, around the four corners of the world, who relentlessly invest efforts to make a difference in the way natural World Heritage sites are conserved, sometimes despite life-threatening situations. 

IUCN received over 30 nominations for the Heritage Heroes awards from across its World Heritage networks. The selection panel, led by experts of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), shortlisted three nominations for the Heritage Heroes awards (by first name and alphabetical order):

A week-long online voting gave the opportunity for the public to select their favourite Heritage Hero. The campaign collected nearly 8,000 unique votes. Bibhuti Lahkar was crowned as the People's Choice Heritage Hero during the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

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Story | 04 September, 2016
Meet the Heritage Hero voted by the public – Bibhuti Lahkar
The public has spoken, choosing Bibhuti Lahkar as the people’s choice Heritage Hero, for his…

All shortlisted Heritage Heroes gained recognition through a social media campaign in the lead-up to the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Thanks to support from the MAVA Foundation and Star Alliance's Biosphere Connections, three nominees will attend the Congress in Hawai'i, where a people's choice award will be conferred.

The Heritage Heroes award is inspired by the fascinating stories of outstanding individuals, such as Jeffrey Lee, who was recognised at the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress in Syndey for his determination to protect his ancestral land from the pressures of the mining industry.

The objective of this initiative is to inspire people to value the importance of natural World Heritage sites and recognise the need to collectively invest in their conservation.