We, the participants of the NGO Forum on World Heritage held in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 22-24 June 2012, have adopted unanimously the following resolution:
Acknowledging the achievements of 40 years of the Convention and its universality, underscored by the anniversary theme «World Heritage and Sustainable Development: the Role of Local Communities»;
Recognizing that the international monitoring provided through the Convention is of paramount importance for the continued protection of World Heritage properties;
We value the World Heritage Convention as a successful instrument for protection and in raising awareness and appreciation of the world’s most important natural and cultural heritage.
However, many World Heritage Properties do not have the desired state of conservation and are threatened by adverse developments and pressures such as mines, dams, agribusiness, construction and other large infrastructure projects, as well as climate change, tourism, uncontrolled urban development, and not the least by neglect, ignorance, ideology and lack of resources, as identified in the annual summary documents of the State of Conservation Report by the World Heritage Centre.
The Operational Guidelines rightly confirm that World Heritage Properties cannot be effectively safeguarded without the active involvement of non-governmental actors. This conveys a high responsibility on them, understanding that obligations can be accepted when there is a balance between rights and responsibilities.
Their inclusion should relate to all stages of the World Heritage procedures, from selecting properties for Tentative Lists to preparing nominations, establishing the management, the implementation, monitoring and reporting for the protection of the properties.
Non-governmental actors possess the wisdom and traditional knowledge of biodiversity and natural resources as well as of techniques of architecture and craftsmanship, and of the intangible spiritual, cultural and historical values connected to the properties.
Together we can make invaluable and irreplaceable contributions to the safeguarding of World Heritage Properties.
In order to further these aims, we call upon
the World Heritage Committee to adopt an amendment to Draft Decision 36 COM 7C on Reflection on the Trends of the State of Conservation with a purpose to involve non-governmental actors;
the World Heritage Committee, in its review of the Strategic Action Plan and Vision for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention 2012-2022 (WHC-11/18.GA/11), to adequately reflect the role and importance of non-governmental actors in the safeguarding of World Heritage Properties;
the open-end working group to be established under Decision 35 COM 13 to invite non-governmental actors to make representations to the Group in order to integrate into the Operational Guidelines procedures for the definition and role of non-governmental actors in the protection of the World Heritage
the NGO and wider non-governmental community to participate in a pre-World Heritage Committee Session Forum to be scheduled annually and to allow a platform for dialogue and debate.
St. Petersburg, 24 June 2012