How’s our World Heritage? IUCN’s assessment of new and existing sites.

15 July 2010 | Media advisory

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets in Brasilia, Brazil from 25 July to 3 August to add new outstanding natural and cultural places to the list of World Heritage sites. IUCN plays a key role in the meeting as the advisory body assessing natural sites and recommending new nominations to the World Heritage list. IUCN also evaluates the state of conservation of existing natural sites and recommends those under threat to be put on the Danger List.  

IUCN has carried out rigorous evaluations of the candidate sites throughout the past year. IUCN’s World Heritage team conducted monitoring missions to 11 existing sites, including 5 on the list of World Heritage Sites in danger, which will be updated at the Committee meeting. IUCN will also launch a study on the value of deserts for World Heritage.

Key Issues
Conserving havens of biodiversity. “Conserving the world’s most significant natural assets will be under the spotlight in Brasilia,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “Many natural World Heritage sites are havens of thriving biodiversity and protecting them are a key part of the response to the extinction crisis we are facing.”
Heritage under threat. “World Heritage sites are famous worldwide; they generate great pride and boost the economies of local communities. But just because a site is listed doesn’t guarantee it will be well conserved and some of them are under serious threat,” says Tim Badman, Head of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “More support, including staff and financial resources should be made available to address challenges such as illegal exploitation of resources, deforestation, real estate development and the degradation of habitats.” says Mariam Ali, World Heritage Conservation Officer.
• The value of deserts. “Deserts cover up to one third of the earth’s land surface and are home to 500 million people. They generate income for local communities, but once damaged, their rich ecosystems take a long time to recover because of the slow rate of biological activity in arid areas,” says Tilman Jaeger, World Heritage Project Management Officer. “IUCN calls for more deserts to be considered and protected as World Heritage sites.”

Media products and events:
Saturday 24 July Press trip to Chapada do Veadeiros, UNESCO World Heritage, Goias, Brazil
Sunday 25 July Opening Statement
Tuesday 27 July Launch of IUCN report on World Heritage Sites and deserts, press conference
Around 29 July (date TBC) Reaction to additions and removals from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, as they are announced at the World Heritage Committee. Official press conference.
Around 31 July (date TBC) Reaction to the latest natural sites to be added to the World Heritage List, as they are announced at the World Heritage Committee. Official press conference.
Tuesday 3 August Closing Statement.

Materials for the media:
Visit http://www.iucn.org/knowledge/news/focus/2010_worldheritage  for press releases on the latest inscriptions of sites on the World heritage list and on the list of sites in danger, audio and video interviews, fact sheets on natural sites, photo gallery and a daily blog by IUCN delegation in Brasilia.

Spokespersons
Tim Badman
, Head, IUCN World Heritage Programme, e tim.badman@iucn.org
Tilman Jaeger, IUCN World Heritage Project Management Officer, e tilman.jaeger@iucn.org
Mariam Ali, IUCN World Heritage Conservation Officer, e mariam.ali@iucn.org  

Media team:
Pia Drzewinski, IUCN Media Relations, m +41 79 857 4072, e pia.drzewinski@iucn.org 
Brian Thomson IUCN Media Manager m +41 79 721 8326, e brian.thomson@iucn.org