It’s the first day at the World Heritage Committee, a year since the last meeting in Brasilia. As this year’s meeting has been moved to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris we are in familiar surroundings, but in the biggest and best rooms in the building. 1300 delegates are said to be registered .. a new record, says Tim Badman, Head of IUCN's World Heritage Programme.
The World Heritage community is meeting again after a year of work on new nominations and conservation actions on the ground. The delegations are gathering and there are many old friends in the corridors.
Although the session does not open formally until tomorrow, already the pace is hotting up, as delegations ask to meet us about some of the more difficult issues up for discussion. Of course the focus is on new inscriptions and the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.
Also at the top of IUCN’s agenda this year is maintaining the strong principles the Convention has adopted on mining and World Heritage areas. We are hoping for stronger recognition of the commitment of leading industry players to not explore for or exploit minerals in World Heritage Sites, and to see this as a position for the States that manage mining licences.
Another will be an important statement by the United Nations Forum that deals with indigenous people, to better recognize local communities in the processes of the Convention.
The biggest pleasure for me, is that the location of the meeting means we have been able to invite our team from IUCN’s regions. Two national IUCN Committees have joined the delegation, also several of IUCN’s Non Governmental Organization members will attend as observers, joining the many State members.
It is great to have a delegation with people from almost all of the UNESCO regions present and ready for the next ten days of long debate and decisions.