There is an entire sub culture of academics and consultants making a pretty reasonable living I guess from World Heritage, travelling the World attending conferences, selling advice etc etc. The names of some individuals appear regularly in papers and conference attendee/speaker lists but the companies are less visible.
I was interested to see the details of the organisation (and the CVs of the individuals working for it) which has just helped with the preparation of UK's "Monkwearmouth and Jarrow" Nomination file -The Centre for Applied Archaeology http://www.ucl.ac.uk/caa/Projects/Projects/index.htm
It appears to be a spin off from University College, London.
Today I came across this organisation operating out of Bahrain (!!) - "Think Heritage"
. Its web site includes absolutely nothing about the individuals who work for it and very little on its previous projects, successful or otherwise, so it is impossible to tell how credible an organisation it is - it might consist solely of an individual sitting in an office in Muharraq for all it tells us about itself!! But I found one section particularly interesting. It lists all the areas of "assistance" it offers, presumably to States Parties, across the entire range of activities involved in gaining and maintaining World Heritage status - from initial identification of potential sites, through getting onto the T List, preparing a Nomination File, organising the ICOMOS mission visit, arranging boundary modifications, preparing monitoring reports etc. Whatever the value-add such an organisation might be able to provide it does show just how complex, demanding AND "political" the entire World Heritage process has become.http://www.thinkheritage.com/world_heritage.html
I wonder if it was involved in the preparation of the Bahrain's Pearl Landscape nomination and is trying to trade on this experience? Its office has been closed apparently during the Bahrain riots and its Web site looks pretty new and incomplete. Also of course Bahrain has recently been made a regional centre on World Heritage matters by UNESCO - so some of the movers and shakers of the World Heritage "industry" will be accessible making it perhaps a good place from which to operate such a consultancy. However, if I were a developing country wanting advice on how to progress with preparing my WHS through to inscription I think I might be more inclined to deal with University College London - but perhaps I would be wrong!
I also wonder to what extent these companies operate under the umbrella of UNESCO? Many developing countries rely on UNESCO grants to pay for consultancy and assistance and, presumably UNESCO has some say in which organisations are used? Though, of course UNESCO doesn't have a very good reputation when it comes to utilising its resources -the UK government put it on a yellow card warning earlier this year with the threat to withhold its annual subscription unless UNESCO put its house in order. (If UK did this then presumably it wouldn't be nominating any further WHS!!)