Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Bahrain Action Plan created to scale-up marine World Heritage Programme

Delegates from around the world and from across the Arabian Seas met last week and agreed to the creation of the Bahrain Action Plan to scale-up activities on marine World Heritage. This Action Plan, which is expected to be available in the next two months, will identify the steps that can be taken at global and regional scales to increase the area of ocean and sea protected as marine World Heritage.

The three-day workshop was held in Bahrain under the patronage of Southern Governor and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife president Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

For the Marine workshop, an internal agreement in Bahrain, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture and Information, led to have the latter jointly organizing the workshop with the Public Commission for the Protection of the Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife, UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, at Novotel Al Dana Resort Bahrain. It brought together International Union for Conservation of Nature-World Commission on Protected Area (IUCN-WCPA) marine co-ordinators, international experts, individuals and officials.

UNESCO World Heritage Centre programme specialist Marc Patry said "The aim is to safeguard marine natural heritage and use the World Heritage Convention to promote large-scale marine conservation, develop strategic partnerships and strengthen conservation capacity. Marine sites are considered an area of potential for future nominations of world heritage properties in the Arab region.”

The World Heritage Convention is one of many tools for marine conservation – other approaches include measures under the Convention on Biodiversity, Ramsar Convention, Convention on Migratory Species, UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme, UNEP Regional Seas Programme
“199 of the existing 878 heritage sites are listed for their natural values and just 41 protected at least in part for their marine biodiversity values. This workshop has been an excellent opportunity to look at how to scale up action to protect more of the hidden wonders of our oceans and seas” added Prof Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas.

The Bahrain Action Plan from this workshop will be published and presented to the World Heritage Committee who will meet in June this year to assist in the future targeting of marine activities by UNESCO and IUCN.

For access to the presentations and papers for this meeting click here

To see photos from the event visit the home page of Protect Planet Ocean and follow the Face Book link