World Heritage Watch Report 2020!

World Heritage Watch Report 2020!

World Heritage Watch Report 2020! was published in June 2020. The Report has all the presentations from the Civil Society Forum held with UNESCO in Paris in January, but covers also many new sites and recent threats.

Natural sites make up one half of all contributions to this year’s report which reflects the fact that they also have a disproportionate share of the sites inscribed in UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in danger.

We were surprised to find that tourism development is the main factor of threat in one third of all contributions. While tourism for education, encounters with the local population, and an experience of heritage held in common with all humankind are implied in the very idea of World Heritage, and should be encouraged, nominations for the World Heritage List are increasingly motivated not by protecting the site but by promoting tourism, and the World Heritage status is thus morphing from an instrument of protection to a factor of threat just by attracting too many visitors. This will force everyone involved to rethink what sustainable tourism at World Heritage sites would be.

The Report has already gained a huge circulation. This a new and very encouraging level of attention for our work. The knowledge accumulated over five years of work and in more than 170 members of our network worldwide will enable us to tackle some critical World Heritage policy issues in the near future, such as the politicization of the WH Committee, the procedures for nomination and evaluation which allow for too many sites being inscribed, threats from climate change, tourism, hydro-electric dams, and a stronger role for local populations in sharing management and benefits at World Heritage Sites.

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