UNESCO launches the Third Cycle of Periodic Reporting on World Heritage in the Africa Region
Eleven national focal points for World Heritage in the Eastern Africa region are participating in the Regional Meeting on Implementation of the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention in the Africa Region from 11-14 September 2019 in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, which was organized by the UNESCO Office in Abidjan in collaboration with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF).
The UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa supported the participation of national focal points from Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda in a regional meeting that aimed to review the progress and challenges faced by States Parties in implementing the UNESCO 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in the Africa Region.
Since the launch of the First and Second Cycles of World Heritage Periodic Reporting in the Africa Region in 2002 and 2011, the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the region has shown improvement over the years, including increased representation of natural, cultural and mixed sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List—with 95 properties from 46 African countries (including 34 sites from the Eastern Africa region). Nevertheless, 16 of these sites from the Africa region (including 4 from Eastern Africa) are inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which raises a red flag about threats to the sites and mobilizes technical and financial support from the international community to safeguard the ‘Outstanding Universal Values’ for which they were inscribed on the World Heritage List. Most of the Danger listed sites have faced challenges related to insecurity and armed conflicts. In the Eastern Africa region, sites were inscribed on the Danger List for threats from poaching, unsustainable development, fire and illegal logging.
The Report from the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting in Africa (2011) identified capacity building needs in the fields of: Community outreach; Risk Preparedness; Enforcement of legislative frameworks and policies; Conservation; Education and site interpretation/promotion; Visitor and tourism management. In the sub- regional meetings, the establishment of functional networks, which involve cooperation among sites managers and universities was also identified as of great importance to enhance the capacity building and experience sharing processes.
Each periodic reporting cycle adopts an Action Plan to meet the challenges and priorities identified by States Parties for implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the region. The Action Plan helps guide UNESCO and its partners’ support in the region.
The Third Periodic Reporting Cycle in the Africa region will be implemented in several steps and involve a series of sub-regional and regional meetings through 2021. Following the launch meeting in Cote d’Ivoire in September 2019, the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa will organize an Anglophone workshop from 19-21 February 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya. The Anglophone workshop will gather 100 participants including 22 National Focal Points, 61 Sites Managers, UNESCO experts, Advisory Bodies, AWHF and other technical/financial partners. The aim is to further discuss issues raised at the regional launching meeting with a focus on the Anglophone countries and Mozambique. The participants will also complete the Section II of the Questionnaire and further carry out an initial analysis of the information gathered so far.
The final Periodic Report for World Heritage in the Africa region will be presented to the World Heritage Committee in June/July 2021.
“I am pleased that national focal points from the Eastern Africa region can actively participate in this first launching meeting for the World Heritage Periodic Reporting cycle,” said Ms. Ann-Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa. “I am confident that they will ensure the needs and challenges faced by the Eastern Africa region are clearly reflected in the final Periodic Report on World Heritage in the Africa Region,” she added.