Building capacity for managing World Heritage

25 February 2013 | Article

Managers from 10 World Heritage sites throughout Africa met at the IUCN ESARO regional offices in Nairobi, Kenya to reflect on and learn more about management effectiveness of natural World Heritage sites in Africa. The Africa Nature project, a collaborative effort by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, IUCN and the African World Heritage Fund, with financial support from the Governments of Flanders (Belgium) and Spain, convened this workshop.

The objectives of the Nairobi workshop were to introduce the Enhancing our Heritage Toolkit (EoH) toolkit to the managers for the World Heritage sites represented and to take stock of the management challenges facing these sites. The focal points will be working with dedicated mentors over the next 12 months to carry out detailed management effectiveness assessments and to help the managers to make the most of available resources to address the many challenges facing these sites today.

The initial phase of the Africa Nature project aims to assist World Heritage sites to conduct a management effectiveness assessment using the EoH, with the support of mentors, who have used this toolkit at their site already, and to build the capacity of the focal points at these sites to conduct management effectiveness assessments.

Improved management effectiveness has been repeatedly highlighted as one of the key priorities for protected areas by international forums and conventions, such as the World Parks Congress and the Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA) for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The EoH toolkit which was extensively tested in 9 pilot World Heritage sites across the globe, including the Aldabra Atoll, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Serengeti National Park, is now being rolled out as a best practice system across natural World Heritage sites in Africa.

The Africa Nature project has been designed as a start-up phase for a more long term programme to improve the management of natural World Heritage sites in Africa. There is an urgent imperative to focus support on African World Heritage sites, which face a myriad of challenges including unsustainable levels of resource extraction, human-wildlife conflict, climate change and invasive species. Of the 39 natural, cultural and mixed sites on the UNESCO global World Heritage Danger list, 17 (44%) are in Africa, a higher proportion than anywhere else in the world.

For more information contact: Leo Niskanen, Technical Coordinator, Conservation Areas and Species Diversity programme, IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) leo.niskanen@iucn.org