UNESCO, AFRICA, CHINA FORUM 2019

DATE: 3 JUNE – 4 JUNE

VENUE: UNESCO, PARIS

UNESCO, AFRICA, CHINA FORUM 2019

Sub-Saharan Africa contains a remarkable variety of natural and cultural heritage that contributes to our understanding of human and natural evolution and history and many of the planet’s last remaining wilderness areas. With a population of more than 1 billion, 95 properties (52 cultural, 38 natural, 5 mixed sites) inscribed1 on the World Heritage List to date, the Africa region remains under‐represented on the World Heritage List (less than 9% of all sites). Yet, African sites represent a third of the sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The World Heritage sites in Africa face many challenges related to erratic development, armed conflicts and terrorism, uncontrolled movements of populations, poaching, inadequate management and climate change, to mention only the most pressing issues. Numerous  nitiatives and activities providing both financial and technical assistance have been carried out over the years to address issues related to protecting and conserving these sites. These efforts include capacity‐building initiatives, such as the ‘Africa 2009’ and the ‘Africa Nature’ programmes, the establishment of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), all of which are aimed at increasing the number of African sites on the World Heritage List and ensuring the sustainable management and conservation of listed sites. These initiatives have produced significant results for the Africa region, but much remains to be done.

With a population of 1.4 billion, the People’s Republic of China has 53 properties on the World Heritage List (36 cultural, 13 natural and 4 mixed). Since 1985 when it ratified the World Heritage Convention, China has gained considerable experience in its implementation. During this same period, the country has witnessed sustained economic development and expanded its bilateral and multilateral cooperation with African countries. At the same time, its cultural and natural heritage is threatened by rapid urbanization, unprecedented expansion of the tourism sector and other pressures associated with economic growth. These challenges to the sustainable conservation and management of World Heritage sites are similar in scale and nature to the ones faced in the Africa region.

It is within this context that UNESCO is collaborating with States Parties from Africa and China to organize the UNESCO-Africa-China Forum on World Heritage and Sustainable Development: sharing experiences between Africa and China at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.

 

The Forum agenda is based on mutual priorities of Africa and China as established under two guiding compacts: the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063 “The Africa We Want”. Both compacts pledge to shared peace and prosperity at global and regional levels – a commitment that includes the protection of natural and cultural heritage resources. The Forum also represents a step in implementing African and Chinese governments’ commitments to capacity building as agreed at the 2018 Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Africa is one of UNESCO’s two Global Priorities – the other being Gender Equality. Priority Africa’s action for the period 2014-2021 focuses on two major points: Building peace by supporting inclusive, pacific and resilient societies; and reinforcing institutional capacities for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Forum will further respond to the outcomes of the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Africa.

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