Global Strategy of the World Heritage
From:UNESCO WHC   PublishDate:2013-02-28  Hits:2647

In 1994, the World Heritage Committee launched the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List. Its aim is to ensure that the List reflects the world’s cultural and natural diversity of outstanding universal value.


The Background and Objectives

The number of properties listed in the World Heritage List has constantly grown since the adoption of the 1972 Convention. Meanwhile, the enthusiasm for applying for UNESCO World Heritage Site has also been stimulated. In such circumstances, while it can be appreciated that the heritage awareness has permeated through the people, some threats are emerging gradually.


According to the study carried out by ICOMOS from 1987 to 1993, in the twenty-two years after te adoption of the 1972 Convention, the World Heritage List lacked balance in the type of inscribed properties and in the geographical areas of the world that were represented. Among the 410 properties, 304 were cultural sites and only 90 were natural and 16 mixed. Moreover, among the cultural heritage sites, historic towns and religious monuments, Christianity, historical period and ‘elitist’ architecture (in relation to vernacular) were all over-represented on the World Heritage List, all living cultures, and especially ‘traditional cultures’, were underrepresented. In addition, it should also be noticed that the vast majority is located in the developed regions of the world, notably in Europe, and only a few are in developing regions.


Faced with this situation, the World Heritage Committee recognized that the definition of World Heritage had entered a new stage at which the concept of “outstanding universal value” should be further manifested. In order to meet this urgent need, the criteria of the World Heritage selection should base on the following principles: representativeness, balance and credibility, so that the selection can be more standardized and authoritive. By conducting such strategy, not only the global diversity of culture and natural context can be better reflected by World Heritage, but also a comprehensive framework and operational methodology are provided for the implementing of World Heritage Convention.




In line with the Global Strategy, both the processes and the strategies of nomination of World Heritage have been improved. Based on the Strategy, the State Parties have to prepare a Tentative List, which have to e updated at least once a decade and list the candidate properties which will be submitted in the following five or ten years. Each year, when a State Party presents a nomination, this property must be inscribed on the Tentative List.


Since the launching of the Global Strategy, 39 new countries have ratified the World Heritage Convention, many from small Pacific Island States, Eastern Europe, Africa and Arab States. Meanwhile, 99 State Parties had submitted the Tentative List.


New categories for World Heritage sites have also been promoted, such as the category of cultural landscape, cultural routes, industrial heritage, deserts, and coastal-marine and small-island sites. Important conferences and thematic studies aimed at implementing the Global Strategy have been held in different regions. These well-focused studies have become important guides for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in these regions.


Advance with time

As the concept “Cultural landscapes” formally defined, there was a new breakthrough in terms of the identification and classify methodology of World Heritage in 1992. Cultural landscapes, emphasizing the interaction and coexistence between mankind and environment, narrow the gap between culture and nature. In 1994, on the basis of promoting thr diversity of World Heritage List, the Global Strategy, which ensure the contribution of concept “cultural landscapes” to World Heritage, solidified the position of this new heritage category.


In the year 2003 and 2005, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions were approved by UNESCO. Although these two conventions do not direct the selection of the World Heritage List, they still have a significant influence on the concept of the World Heritage. Thanks to them, the principle of representativeness, balance and credibility, advocated by the Global Strategy, has been expended; and te harmony of tangible and intangible heritage as well as the coexistence between the cultures, spirits, believes and creativities of human have been further acknowledged and promoted. Thus, they leaded the value orientation of the World Heritage to be more comprehensive.


At the 28th World Heritage Convention in 2004, the World Heritage Committee reviewed the research regarding to the change of the development of Global Strategy, which carried Out by ICOMOS and IUCN. It described that the imbalance of World Heritage List had been partially relieved, but to solve this problem still would be a target in the future. The reason for the imbalanced distribution of cultural heritage was mainly caused by the flaws of the application procedures and the assessment methods. Meanwhile, the research also pointed out that although the natural and mixed sites were distributed evenly in terms of the location, some

heritage categories, such as tropical or temperate grasslands, lake systems, polar systems and tundra etc, were not contained in the list.


Therefore, in recent years, based on the Global Strategy, the World Heritage Committee decided to limit the number of nominations that can be declared by each State Party and can be approved by the committee every year, in order to enhance the underrepresented categories of

sites and to improve geographical coverage.


Global Strategy is a strategic reassurance for the coordinated development of the World Heritage List; it also can be an effective tool on regulating the nominations of World Heritage. On the other hand, for the State Parties, a careful study of the Global Strategy may contribute to making the appropriate strategy and improve

the success in World Heritage nomination.

Copyright © 2009-2012 World Heritage Institute of Training and Research-Asia and Pacific (shanghai)