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"World Heritage Watch"

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 10 Jul 2019 04:37 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Did anyone notice 2 occasions where NGOs spoke AGAINST inscription at this year's WHC? There may have been other occasions which I missed.
a. Sawahlunto - an Indonesian NGO titled "WAHLI" said that UNESCO really shouldn't be inscribing WHC which "celebrate" the release of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere - or other similar "non-green" sites. This statement came AFTER the WHC had already inscribed the site! The speech can be found here at 2hrs 18 mins 15 secs in.
WAHLI's dissatisfaction with the Indonesian nomination is described here -

b. Prosecco - a statement from the "Pesticide Action Group - Italy" and "World Heritage Watch" came just BEFORE the WHS agreed to inscribe Prosecco. stating that "I kindly urge you NOT to inscribe Prosecco....." The Chair gave a somewhat awkward "Thank you" ("We will take note.......") before moving on to the inscription and all the celebrations. The speech can be found here at 17 min 15 secs in. Here is a relevant page from the "Pesticide Action Group"

These 2 statements set me thinking - I don't remember such statements in previous years. Well, it appears that, since 2018, NGOs accredited to take part in the WHC have been permitted to make 2 minute statements PRIOR to a decision being taken. I discovered this in the Web site of another "protesting" NGO - "Stonehenge Alliance" which is working to prevent the building of the road tunnel near Stonehenge. I have however been unable to find anything in the minutes of WHC meetings discussing this policy. It would appear that it is part of UNESCO's push to improve the involvement of "Civil Society" in its activites and decision making. Apparently giving NGOs 2 minutes (precisely!!) to speak before being ignored contributes to the achievement of this policy!!

The Stonehenge Alliance however led me on to another and more significant NGO with whom they work - namely "World Heritage Watch" (which was also mentioned by the Pesticide Action Group.). I have looked this organisation up in our previous Forum posts and, as far as I can see, we have NEVER referred to it. In retrospect I find this amazing as its Web site and published papers contain a lot of very good and interesting material relating to inscribed and upcoming WHS.

It appears that World Heritage Watch is a "Network" of NGO's "focusing exclusively on the world heritage properties, both cultural and natural, and both inscribed and listed tentatively, in close cooperation with local communities. An international NGO calling for worldwide attention to the views of local and indigenous groups improves chances that their concerns will be addressed, and it will encourage them to get involved"

It gets itself accredited at WHCs and acts on behalf of the smaller organisations within its network - So, for instance, it read out the Stonehenge Alliance's statement at the 2018 WHC .

A point of particular interest to us is that it meets in Berlin (always?) every year BEFORE the WHC and publishes a joint "World Heritage Watch Report" in which there are detailed papers regarding both inscribed and T List sites relevant to that year's WHC (covering mission reports, "in danger" etc etc as well as nominations). This year's "Report" contained reports on Prosecco and Grossglockner as well as many inscribed sites. It appears that the organisation isn't always in favour of inscription and some of its articles are hostile to it e.g the 2 mentioned above. There are also articles about sites not even active on the T List yet so it gives an indication of upcoming nominations.

An organisation and a web site worth keeping in touch with I feel - Its Web site gives fuller details and contains links to the World Heritage Watch Reports for 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Author meltwaterfalls
#2 | Posted: 10 Jul 2019 07:31 
Thanks very much for that rundown Solivagant it looks like a very interesting voice and set of resources.

The issues they address run the gamut from large scale: Large loss of biodiversity on Great Barrier Reef, through to some rather smaller issues: Overuse of motorised vehicles on farms near Oxenfell and Tilberthwaite in the Lake District.

Those reports look very interesting. Just the 2019 alone brings up the modernist heritage of Bissau and an attempt to get it on the Bissau-Guinean tentative list, all of that is completely new to me (including the demonym for Guinea-Bissau).

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