World Heritage Programme

Tabe'a Initiative & Activities

Tabe’a initiative & activities coordinates IUCN’s work on the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in the Arab States region and under close collaboration with the IUCN Global World Heritage Programme.

The initiative supports the World Heritage related activities in the Arab States region on a broader framework of the IUCN's Global World Heritage Programme; to enhance the role of the World Heritage Convention in protecting the planet’s biodiversity and promote effective use of its mechanisms to strengthen the conservation and management of natural World Heritage site.

The initiative is managed from IUCN’s Regional Office for West Asia in Amman- Jordan, and works in close collaboration with Global World Heritage Programme, and other IUCN’s regional offices, as well as with other regional programmes.

For more info contact:

Haifaa Abdulhalim - IUCN World Heritage Arab States & West Asia Focal Point

Wadi Rum, Jordan

World Heritage Convention

World Heritage Convention, created in 1972, is one of the most important global conservation instruments and has almost universal adoption amongst the nations of the World. The Convention embodies a visionary idea - that some places of Outstanding Universal Value are so important that their protection is not only the responsibility of a single nation, but is also the duty of the international community as a whole,and not only for these generations but for all those generations to come.

UNESCO 40 years World Heritage

Advisory Body role

IUCN has a special role on World Heritage as Advisory Body, and also supports wider work on World Heritage through its members, commissions and partners.  IUCN’s regional offices are the best placed actors to meet regional needs to strengthen natural World Heritage activities, and lead and develop activities that complement the official advisory body role of IUCN.

What is Natural Heritage?

Natural World Heritage Sites are globally recognized as the world’s most important natural areas

Protected areas like natural World Heritage Sites provide the most significant, front-line response to the global extinction crisis and cover 12% of the world’s surface. However, despite this critical role, these special places face many significant challenges, from direct degradation due to human pressures, lack of political support and sustainable finance, and the impacts of climate change.

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention provides a unique framework for securing the conservation of over 200 of the world’s most important natural areas, recognized as being of Outstanding Universal Value.

The identification of these Sites through the Convention is a direct response to the need to preserve and restore globally outstanding protected areas. The Convention provides a unique platform for developing and sharing best-practice, and can act as a barometer of global protected area performance.

What are the Natural Heritage Sites in the Arab Region?

The Arab States are home to a wealth and diversity of natural heritage, with desert landscapes and marine sites being particularly noteworthy.

The number of natural sites currently listed is, however, the smallest of any of the UNESCO regions by a considerable margin.

The Natural Heritage Sites in the Arab Region



In coordination with local stakeholders in Yemen and Socotra in particular, IUCN ROWA has produced a documentary entitled “Socotra – The Last Stand”. This documentary promotes the special and unique ecosystem of the Socotra Archipelago. It shows how the islands and the local people there are trying to fit into today’s’ changing world by facing many challenges to achieve the ecological, cultural and economic sustainability. With increased accessibility and the influence of globalization, the islands are threatened by unsustainable development.