From 30 June to 6 July 2017, in Kraków, took place the first in history World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum, an event accompanying the 41st World Heritage Committee session. The initiator and organizer of the Forum was the National Heritage Board of Poland, with cooperation with ICCROM and support of World Heritage Centre, IUCN and ICOMOS.

The idea of the Forum was to unite representatives from WH properties with those at the heart of WH procedures as stronger bridges should be built between the procedural core of the WH system and WH site managers, whose ongoing work to safeguard OUV constitutes the real expression of the Convention.

Objectives of the Forum were: to understand the decision making process by the Committee and its role in safeguarding World Cultural Heritage, to expose the site managers to the State of Conservation (SoC) process, and to be able to assess site managers role in the SoC process and to understand its link to WH Committee decisions.

The Forum attended about 100 participants from 25 State-Parties from around the world. On the 30 June the Forum was opened during the dinner hosted by the Mayor of Kraków. Another three days were dedicated to presentations concerning WH system, key actors and their roles, monitoring of WH properties and special activities and tools, presented by World Heritage Centre, ICCROM, IUCN and ICOMOS. Also WH site managers from Syria, Ecuador, Poland, Indonesia, Lesotho, Republic of South Africa and Honduras shared their experience as case studies, while the National Heritage Board of Poland presented Polish perspective from the point of view of the site manager, WH Focal Point, as well as the member of WH Committee. For the three following days site managers participated at the Plenary item 7 (SoC Reports).

One of the outcomes of the Forum was a statement prepared by WH site managers containing their objectives and conclusions. During a short workshop site managers developed a document in which they recognized 3 groups of needs that refer to: WH (eco)system, WH processes and capacity building. The statement and final conclusions were presented during the closing of the WH Site Mangers’ Forum on the 6 June.

Deep  engagement of the participants as well as discussions accompanying the delivery of the statement during the official closing of the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum leave no doubt as to the need for continuation of the site managers’ meetings to be held annually during the World Heritage Committee sessions. The conjunction with the Committee Session brings general attention to those who are directly responsible for the protection of the WH sites and gives an outstanding opportunity to have their voices heard at the level of the WH system. Annual meetings of site managers, Advisory Bodies and Committee Members on the problems concerning protection of the WH sites will definitely strengthen not only the sense of responsibility but also the sense of community and shared obligation towards World Heritage.

Statement of the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum

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