Islands on the agenda

24 June 2009 | News story

How can the World Heritage Convention work best to conserve the natural values of island nations that are on the front line of climate change? IUCN gave its opinion on this critical issue known during the second day of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Seville. 

The World Heritage Convention can play an important role in protecting some of the world’s most important and fragile ecosystems, particularly in the face of climate change impacts.

During its interventions yesterday, IUCN offered its expertise in addressing threats to the fragile ecosystems of small islands and its extensive experience in the Pacific.

"The Pacific island nations and many other island states such as the Maldives are already suffering from sea level rise and more extreme weather events. Capacity development, community-based approaches to conservation, securing sustainable livelihoods and the spread of invasive species all need addressing and are areas in which IUCN can help, " said Tilman Jaeger, World Heritage Project Management Officer at IUCN.

Among the issues being tabled this week is the idea of a Pacific World Heritage Fund. IUCN is keen to explore what this would entail and how it could support it, possibly by providing advice on lists of potential World Heritage properties and how to effectively manage these sites. Through its Pacific Programme and Pacific members of its World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN is looking at what it could do to boost the participation of State Parties in the Region in the World Heritage Convention.

"IUCN  welcomes the progress made by the World Heritage Programme on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and calls for greater synergies between this, the Pacific Programme and the Bahrain Action Plan on Marine World Heritage which will also be discussed this week, " said Tim Badman, IUCN’s Special Advisor on World Heritage. " We have recently established a Programme on Islands, bringing together a range of partners which could help implement the World Heritage SIDS Programme, in partnership with UNESCO and others."