BTL SESSION 1 – A Balanced and Defensible World Heritage List?


The Beyond the List exploration is rooted in understanding the list. We may think of the World Heritage List as static, but it is constantly evolving. Over the past 49 years properties of various types and categories have come forward and been inscribed. In this session we will explore that evolution highlighting specific trends and opportunities, particularly toward a balanced and defensible list. With World Heritage Convention approval in 1972, questions began to be raised in the early 1990s about the types and diversity of properties listed, leading the World Heritage Committee to develop reports, hold meetings and frame a global strategy toward representations. A 2004 report by ICOMOS titled the World Heritage List: Filling the Gaps – an Action Plan for the Future, An Analysis, urgently needs re-evaluation. Today 194 states parties have signed the World Heritage Convention while 27 of those have no properties inscribed and 3 states parties have 50+ listings. These are numbers, but what do they tell us about a balanced list?

Exploring the listed properties today, we find various important vectors. For example, indigenous as a search term reveals the peoples and environments that are vessels of bio-cultural diversity. Testing in another direction, the early dominance of Christianity is viewed against the rise in a diversity of religious sites.

State Party Tentative Lists, that set forth about ten projected years of nominations, are perhaps the most influential vehicle forming the future list. The Tentative List process can be top down from governments, bottom up arising from potential property owners and stewards and civil society, or integrated by local and regional desires and heritage scholarship. Examples will reveal historic and more recent drafting processes.   

Join us for presentations and discussion of the evolution, status, and next steps for the World Heritage List. Take part in our Instagram surveys this month, and nominate sites that you believe have unique values to be shared by all.


14:00 14.05 – Introduction Maaike Goedkoop

14.0515.00 – Speakers

Patricia O’Donnell
OWH Board, ISCCL (ISCCL= ICOMOS IFLA International Scientific Committee on Cultural Landscapes)

Gregory De Vries
Heritage Landscapes, ISCCL

Shikha Jain
Dronah, ISCCL

Christina Cameron
University of Montreal

15.00 – 15.30 – Dialogue and Participant Comments and Questions