Sustainability CASE STUDIES

Deadline closed

– Submission form below –

OurWorldHeritage is a global movement calling for a renewed committed to protecting the Earth’s great treasures. This supports our transformation into locally empowered, just and resilient societies.

We firmly believe that to be sustainable, development processes can and should fully reflect the contribution of heritage conservation. An important tool for this end is to fully incorporate sustainability into the criteria and processes to inscribe and manage World Heritage.

The Sustainability Thematic Debate Team invites heritage management bodies, NGOs, local community representatives, universities and experts to submit case studies illustrating the relationship of heritage and sustainable development.

You can thus become our partners in creating policy recommendations to improve the Sustainability of World Heritage, on the occasion of the 50th year of the World Heritage Convention.

We will select and discuss, with an international group of eminent experts from academia and practice, 60 case studies representative of all world regions and typologies of World Heritage Sites (including sites on the Tentative List), which exemplify good practices, challenges and opportunities in the sustainable management of heritage sites.


10 case studies per region (Africa, Arab States, Asia and Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, and North America) that represent the 3 proposed categories (cultural, natural, mixed sites, including cultural landscapes and sites in danger) will be selected, to demonstrate how sites are conserved and managed sustainably, how their conservation contributes to local socio-economic development, and how sustainable development practices improve the protection of the cultural and natural heritage.

The selection criteria are based on the principles of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Development Policy (2015)1 and enhanced with new ones considered important by the Sustainability Team:

Environmental Sustainability (biological and cultural diversity; ecosystem services; resilience to natural hazards and climate change; management of impacts of tourism and urban growth on the environment; heritage networks or archipelagos; integrality of ecosystems and territorial transitions)

Inclusive Social Development (inclusion, equity and enculturation; quality of life and well-being; social capital; human rights, participation, education; indigenous peoples and local communities; gender equality; intangible heritage practices)

Inclusive Economic Development (securing jobs, income and livelihoods; economic investment; quality tourism; funding and financing; capacity building, innovation and local entrepreneurship; local/ endogenous economic development; equitable income distribution)

Governance, Peace and Security (conflict prevention; protection of heritage during conflicts; conflict resolution; post-conflict recovery; rule of law; transparency and accountability; cooperation/ collaboration; innovation and adaptability)


1: Initial applications will be collected and evaluated, after which selected applicants will be notified by 1 March 2021, and receive an invitation for the next step.

2: Invited applicants will prepare a draft document of their case study, through a detailed questionnaire that elaborates on the above-mentioned criteria of sustainability, by mid-March 2021. The documents will be discussed among the evaluating experts and the case study stakeholders, with feedback provided in April 2021.

3: Stakeholders will prepare a final document of their case study, taking into account the feedback received, and present them at one-day Regional Sustainability Workshops in May/June 2021.

4: Discussions of regional workshops will result in regional papers that will be prepared, together by partners (evaluators and case study stakeholders) of the Sustainability Team, and presented at the World Heritage Sustainability Webinar in July 2021.

5: Regional papers and outcomes of the webinar will be compiled in a publication featuring policy recommendations on Heritage & Sustainability later in 2021. The recommendations will also provide inspiration in preparing the ‘OurWorldHeritage @50 Forum’ in 2022, and the ‘OurWorldHeritage Index’, designed to monitor sites inclusively in the long-term.

Together, we can shape the future of World Heritage. We look forward to hearing from you!

Deadline for submitting initial proposals: 15 February 2021, 11.59 pm CET.

To apply, fill in the case study application form below.

Download a PDF of the full call text in English, French (Langue Française), Portuguese (Idioma Português), or Spanish (Idioma Español) language.