Nadi, Fiji – 3 November 2023 – In a promising move to enhance the cultural and natural heritage representation of Pacific Island Countries on the World Heritage List, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States in partnership with the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) of the Australian Government, has completed a 3-day workshop in Nadi, Fiji. In her opening remarks, Dr. Shamila Nair-Bedouelle, Director, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, emphasized, “This workshop provides us the opportunity to work towards the objectives we set with the Pacific Regional World Heritage Workplan 2021-2025, but also to connect and create a community working together for the protection of Pacific natural and cultural heritage.”
World Heritage is highly relevant to the Pacific with its large ocean spaces, customary land tenures and linking culture, people, communities, and nature together in values and management. The region contains a series of spectacular and highly powerful, and spiritually valued natural features, as well as cultural places. These places are related to the origins of peoples, the land and sea, and other sacred stories. Despite this rich diversity of culture and nature heritage, the Pacific region remains underrepresented on the World Heritage List, making it challenging for SIDS to secure global heritage recognition. A lack of financial and technical assistance for documentation and management, coupled with vulnerabilities to climate change, has hampered efforts for the identification, protection and promotion of sites. “More than in other regions of the world, the implementation of the 1972 Convention in the Pacific SIDS requires a coordinated strategy. Workshops like this are instrumental for this purpose, helping to identify common challenges and ways to address them, while also raising awareness about the need to reinforce the institutional framework to ensure effective outcomes.” noted Mr. Alessandro Balsamo, Chief of Nominations Unit, UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
This workshop aims to equip more than 40 national stakeholders with skills for the effective implementation of the World Heritage Convention and explore the role of World Heritage in helping to meet the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People target to protect 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030 (the 30×30 target). It will do this by providing training and mentorship to Pacific Island countries, specifically designed to help them navigate the World Heritage Tentative Listing and nomination processes, in an effort to increase the number of World Heritage property nominations from this region. Dr Anita Smith, Associate Professor in Archaeology and Heritage at La Trobe University, Australia highlighted “The Pacific nations all face similar challenges in managing their heritage including lack of resources and training and natural disasters that are increasing as the climate changes. Sharing of experiences and possible approaches to overcoming these challenges is vital.”
The workshop, is in line with the recommendations of the Regional Action Plan for World Heritage for the Pacific 2021-2025 and the Regional Framework Action Plan that was endorsed at the Extended 45th Session of the World Heritage Committee that was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in September 2023. The initiative is part of UNESCO efforts to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.