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Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context


This Guidance explains how impact assessments can be used to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties in order to manage continuity and change by informing good decisionmaking in the context of UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage – the ‘World Heritage Convention’ (UNESCO, 1972). The Convention was adopted at a time of great concern about the effects of rapid transformations taking place in the modern world.
Fifty years later, the Convention has been ratified by 194 States Parties, who have put forward more than 1,000 heritage places for inscription, which are celebrated for their Outstanding Universal Value.

At the same time, these transformations have become even more intense, and do not always benefit from prior reflection on the need to preserve the balance between people and their natural and cultural environment. Both the natural and the cultural heritage are important to the entire global community – and global cooperation is essential to ensure that heritage is not only protected but also given a role in contemporary society and handed over to future generations in the best possible condition.

Changes both within and outside World Heritage properties need to be managed in line with the Convention’s objectives. Impact assessment can be critical for this and indeed has long been used as a tool in the context of World Heritage properties. The World Heritage Committee has requested that impact assessments should give greater consideration to the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties, thereby supporting States Parties in meeting their obligations under the Convention.

This Guidance is aimed at both individuals familiar with impact assessment and those involved in the management and governance of World Heritage.