World Heritage status is one of the highest international recognitions on the planet. As such, every site inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List is carefully selected following a rigorous process.

IUCN evaluates all candidate sites nominated to the World Heritage List for their natural values, including sites known as 'mixed' that have both natural and cultural values.

The evaluation of nominations is over a year-long process involving IUCN's large network of experts. To ensure the credibility of the World Heritage List, it assesses the global significance, management, and integrity of the nominated sites. 

IUCN's evaluations combine field missions, desk reviews and voluntary input by experts with knowledge of the sites or the natural values they represent. All the information collected is reviewed by IUCN's World Heritage Panel to form IUCN's recommendations to the World Heritage Committee.

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Find out how you could help undertake a desk review or provide input for a particular World Heritage site nomination as an expert reviewer.

Steps before a potential inscription

A country signs the World Heritage Convention
The country compiles an inventory of potential sites, known as a Tentative List
The country prepares nomination files for candidate sites
IUCN evaluates natural and mixed candidate sites
IUCN advises the World Heritage Committee whether to inscribe or not inscribe a site, defer a decision, or refer a nomination back to the country
IUCN's recommendations are published by UNESCO's World Heritage Centre six weeks before the annual World Heritage Committee meeting
The World Heritage Committee takes the final decision

Proposed nominations for 2022

For the 2021-2022 cycle, IUCN has evaluated the nominations below to make recommendations to the World Heritage Committee, which will take the final decisions at its next meeting.

Azerbaijan, Iran – Hyrcanian Forests [extension]
Congo – Massif Forestier d'Odzala-Kokoua
France – Volcans et forêts de la Montagne Pelée et des pitons du nord de la Martinique
Madagascar – Les forêts sèche de l’Andrefana
Morocco – L’Aire du Dragonnier Ajgal
Viet Nam, Ha Long Bay – Cat Ba Archipelago [re-nomination and extension]

The 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, originally scheduled for 19-30 June 2022, has been postponed. The publication of official documents, including IUCN recommendations, will be established by UNESCO in accordance with the Rules of Procedure at the appropriate time.

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Thematic studies and gap analyses

Mobilising its wide network of experts, Members and partners, IUCN regularly conducts and updates thematic analyses to help States Parties and interested stakeholders assess the potential for nominating candidate sites to the World Heritage List. 

Thematic studies and gap analyses do not constitute IUCN's recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. Rather they offer guidance on enhancing the role of the World Heritage Convention in protecting globally significant natural areas on the World Heritage List.

Some publications below are translated into several languages. Click on the publications below to access translations on the IUCN online catalogue.