The World Heritage Convention has been helping to conserve the world’s most important natural areas for over 40 years. The United Nations has declared 2011-2020 the International Decade on Biodiversity. During this decade the Convention will continue to face a number of important challenges to creating, conserving and managing natural World Heritage sites, including:
- The long-term conservation and effective management of all natural World Heritage sites: Despite the progress achieved in the conservation of natural World Heritage sites, many are severely threatened. The credibility of the Convention will depend on the long-term conservation and effective management of all World Heritage Sites.
- Certain natural areas are well represented on the World Heritage List while others are poorly covered: Over the next 10 years, a concerted effort is needed to fill the gaps in protection of the most critical ecosystems and landscapes, including marine, freshwater and terrestrial sites.
- World Heritage sites will need to support wider networks of protected areas: Natural World Heritage sites will need to be planned and managed so that they connect with surrounding landscapes and communities, and provide wider social and economic benefits.
- Broader partnerships for conservation are needed: Partnership and stakeholder involvement are key to the success of the World Heritage Convention. More needs to be done to fully engage all partners, including local communities, the private sector, indigenous peoples, and non-governmental organizations in creating, conserving and managing World Heritage sites.