The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is an important international treaty that has for almost 50 years played a major role in expanding heritage legislation worldwide and identifying and promoting the protection of a growing list of the World’s most unique sites – both cultural and natural. Today, however, this instrument is becoming a victim of its own success. OurWorldHeritage seeks to renew the original spirit and mission of the World Heritage Convention, by engaging citizens, civil society groups and professional and academic organizations.

The OurWorldHeritage Sustainability Team, with the motto ““Our Sustainable Heritage: World Heritage conservation as a more sustainable form of development”, has organized an intensive month of debate on Sustainability and Heritage, illustrating the challenges and solutions for integrating heritage and sustainable development, to explore the key concepts of sustainability in World Heritage: People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace. We will explore how development processes can be reconfigured to reflect the contribution of heritage conservation, in a more sustainable form of development grounded in Outstanding Universal Value, managed with transparency, dialogue and understanding.

This month-long debate features events addressing the themes of heritage interpretation, landscape, Indigenous heritage, heritage and climate change, heritage as social capital and participation, alternative economic and governance models, and heritage and youth, as well as a wide selection of case studies to provide insights and lessons from practice. The debates will lead up to a major global event and conference on the future of the world’s heritage in April 2022, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. 

This session will focus on climate change, one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites worldwide. There is an urgent need to understand the ways climate threatens various sites and to understand what adaptation strategies if any are appropriate for their conservation. The iconic character of World Heritage sites is an important asset for raising public concern and enthusiasm and, therefore, building up support to take preventive and precautionary measures for adapting to climate change. Furthermore, World Heritage Sites often embody age-old solutions to support climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. This session aims at raising awareness about the impact of climate change on World Heritage and emphasizing the role of culture and heritage in addressing the challenges of climate change and building more locally empowered, just and resilient societies.

Albino Jopela and Souayibou Varissou

Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF)

Cyril Kormos, Executive Director of Wild Heritage 
Fanny Douvere, UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme
Ishalosen Odiaua, Heritage Practitioner and Vice-President of ICOMOS-NigeriaPascall Taruvinga, Heritage Practitioner, Zimbabwe
Julianne Polanco, State Historic Preservation Officer at California Office of Historic Preservation & Co-Chair of Climate Heritage Network
Scott Heron, Professor of Physical Sciences at James Cook University
Kagosi Mwamulowe, Director-Northern Region, National Heritage Conservation Commission of Zambia
Pascall Taruvinga, Chief Heritage Officer Robben Island World Heritage Site

Albino Jopela, Head of Programmes, African World Heritage Fund

Welcome and Introduction
– Souayibou Varissou, African World Heritage Fund
World Heritage and Climate Change
– Cyril Kormos, Executive Director of Wild Heritage
– Fanny Douvere, UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme
– Ishalosen Odiaua, ICOMOS-Nigeria
The Role of Culture and Heritage in Climate Action
– Julianne Polanco, California Office of Historic Preservation & Climate Heritage Network
Mobilizing Heritage in Climate Resilient Development
– Scott Heron, James Cook University (video message)
Valuing Traditional Knowledge as Climate Change Technology
– Kagosi Mwamulowe, National Heritage Conservation Commission of Zambia
– Pascall Taruvinga, Heritage Portioner, South Africa/Zimbabwe
Q&A and discussion