Leveraging the World Heritage Convention for Transboundary Conservation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

   TwitCount

The World Heritage Convention, signed by 191 member countries in 1972, serves to identify and conserve sites of outstanding universal value to humankind. The Convention has long served to protect some of the planet’s most extraordinary wilderness areas, such as the Yellowstone National Park, the Serengeti, Manú National Park, and Khangchendzonga National Park. The Convention seeks to conserve such sites for posterity from threats such as climate change impacts, unplanned development initiatives, and administrative negligence. The World Heritage Convention has therefore been an essential and effective mechanism for wilderness and large landscape conservation globally and maintaining transboundary connectivity in sites that transcend national borders. 

However, much of its wilderness conservation has adopted a blanket approach, without due consideration of regional ecological conditions and representations. A systematic attempt to leverage the Convention for wilderness and large landscape conservation adapted to specific regions around the world is lacking, which is a significant missed opportunity given the Convention’s strong mandate and jurisdiction. Accordingly, assessments are underway to review natural and cultural areas in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) that have outstanding universal value and meet the criteria to be listed as World Heritage sites. To take this initiative forward, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Wild Heritage are jointly organizing a regional workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 30–31 May 2019 to achieve the following:

  • Understand the status of World Heritage Sites in the HKH and identify the gaps in the coverage.

  • Explore potential World Heritage Sites in the HKH region, particularly in ICIMOD’s landscape initiatives: Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL), Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL), Hindu Kush Karakoram Pamir Landscape (HKPL), and Landscape Initiative in Far Eastern Himalayas (HI-LIFE)

  • Prepare a road map and way forward for the potential world heritage sites    

Workshop participants will include focal persons of four landscapes initiatives of ICIMOD: Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL), Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL), Hindu Kush Kararoram Pamir Landscape (HKPL), and Landscape Initiative in Far Eastern Himalaya (HI-LIFE). Participants will also include representatives from different national and international organizations, including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Wildlife Institute of India (WII); and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICIOMOS).