#TheNext50 – a World Heritage Panel Discussion

How can World Heritage be more representative, accessible, and sustainable? 

On Wednesday 8 February 2023 the Permanent Delegation of the United Kingdom to UNESCO, supported by Historic England, hosted a panel discussion in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention.

Using nine case studies from across the UK’s World Heritage Sites, panellists considered how current activities and projects in the UK can support Director-General Audrey Azoulay’s action plan to make World Heritage more representative, accessible, and sustainable.

Case studies included World Heritage Youth Ambassadors; methodologies for understanding climate change vulnerability in the UK and Africa; new ways to support nominations from under-represented areas; and intergalactic festivals at Jodrell Bank.

Presentations and videos or transcripts of speeches are linked below where possible.

Panel Discussion: Topics and Speakers

Celebrating the Last 50 in the UK

Lord Parkinson reflected on the last 50 years of the World Heritage Convention and what has been achieved in a UK context. Read his comments here.

Lord Parkinson, UK Minister for Arts and Heritage

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in October 2022. Lord Parkinson read History at Cambridge University, where he was also President of the Cambridge Union. He has previously worked in the Conservative Research Department, for a think tank, for referendum campaigns, and as special advisor to former UK Prime Minister Theresa May. He joined the House of Lords in 2019. 

The Next 50

Lazare Eloundou Assomo spoke about the World Heritage Convention and the goals and work needed as it moved into the next 50 years. Watch a video recording of his speech.

Lazare Eloundou Assomo, Director UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Lazare Eloundou Assomo is the Director of World Heritage at UNESCO. An architecture graduate, Mr Eloundou Assomo joined UNESCO in the Africa Unit of the World Heritage centre in 2003. He has since worked as Head of the WHC Africa Unit, as UNESCO’s head representative in Mali, and as Director of the UNESCO Culture and Emergencies entity.  

Theme 1: Representative

Gracehill: Comparative analysis for Moravian Church settlements

Taking the case of the Moravian Church settlements nomination, Barry looked at how comparative analysis is a valuable global exercise. Access the Gracehill case study presentation.

Barry Gamble, World Heritage Consultant

Barry Gamble is a UK-based World Heritage consultant with over 20 years of experience in the World Heritage field. Barry’s background is in geography and geology, and industrial heritage is his area of specific expertise. He was the principle author of the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape nomination dossier and has since worked as a consultant and author for several World Heritage nominations internationally, including Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution (Japan, inscribed 2015), and Krzemionki Prehistoric Striped Flint Mining Region (Poland, inscribed 2019). Barry is a member of ICOMOS and TICCIH. 

St Helena: Tentative List process and Arches instance

The Island of St Helena was on the UK Tentative List from 2012 but chose not to resubmit a dossier for consideration in 2022. The St Helena National Trust are currently working with Historic England to produce an Historic Environment Record for St Helena which can be used as a tool for conservation, planning and development. Access the St Helena case study presentation.

Helena Bennett, Director St Helena National Trust

Helena Bennett has been the Director of the St Helena National Trust since 2021. Prior to this role she worked as Director of Tourism at Enterprise St Helena, promoting sustainable tourism for St Helena. Helena is also the Chairperson of the Liberated African Advisory Committee on St Helena. 

Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales: Participatory processes, links with community and language

The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales nomination was developed in strong partnership between the local council and the community and reflects this process in a World Heritage site that links heritage, community and language. 

Hannah Joyce, Gwynedd Council

Hannah Joyce is the Senior Strategic Regeneration Officer in the Economy and Community Department of Gwynedd Council. In her role, she has managed various Gwynedd Council strategic priority projects, Welsh Government and European Funded projects. Hannah was Project Manager for the Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales World Heritage Site nomination from 2016 onwards, working on behalf of Gwynedd Council and the wider site partnership.

Theme 2: Accessible

Jodrell Bank Observatory: the Bluedot Festival

The Bluedot Festival is a music, science and culture event which has taken place annually at Jodrell Bank since 2016. It combines headline music acts with expert talks and live science experiments. It draws a large audience to the World Heritage Site each year. 

Teresa Anderson, Jodrell Bank centre of Engagement

Dr Teresa Anderson MBE is the Director of the Jodrell Bank Centre of Engagement at Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site (UK). Trained as a physicist, Teresa joined Jodrell Bank in 2003 and established the Centre for Engagement four years later. She is the curator of Bluedot, an annual culture and science festival at Jodrell bank, and led the team for the Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site nomination (inscribed 2019). 

Blaenavon Industrial Landscape: World Heritage Youth Ambassadors

The World Heritage Youth Ambassadors Program supports people aged 13-25 to explore World Heritage in a local, UK and global context. At Blaenavon people aged 11-14 are able to volunteer at and have a voice in the management of the World Heritage Site. Ambassadors can also receive training and qualifications through the program. Access the presentation on Blaenavon.

Ashleigh Taylor, World Heritage Youth Ambassadors

Ashleigh Taylor is the Program Director and Director of Development for the World Heritage Youth Ambassadors Program that operates out of Blaenavon World Heritage Site (UK). Ashleigh worked in University and Council museums and in heritage management prior to joining the Youth Ambassadors team in 2020. 

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Hadrians Wall Wallcap project

The Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (WallCAP) built a community-based network to examine the landscape heritage of Hadrian’s Wall. It aimed to foster local engagement and social investment in heritage landscapes. The project, which ran January 2019 to September 2022 was funded by the National Lottery Fund and hosted by Newcastle University. Fieldwork was carried out at over 15 sites during the project.

Rob Collins, Newcastle University

Dr Rob Collins is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology (Material Culture of the Northern Frontier) at Newcastle University. Rob previously worked for the Great North museum in Newcastle and for the Portable Antiquities Scheme. He was the Research Associate on the Frontiers of the Roman Empire Digital Humanities Initiative at Newcastle University and the Project Manager for the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (WallCAP) 2017-2022.

Theme 3: Sustainable

Stonehenge: Chalkland Restoration

Nick Simms is Senior Project Manager at the National Trust in South West England. 

Chalkland restoration project seeks to restore and reunite the Wiltshire chalk landscapes, including Stonehenge which is the joining point of the Cranbourne Chase and North Wessex Downs Areas of Natural Beauty. 

From Orkney to Africa: Climate Vulnerability Indices

The Climate Vulnerability Index is a rapid-assessment tool to assess climate change vulnerability of World Heritage Sites. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney was the first cultural World Heritage Site to pilot this approach. UK partners were then involved in the CVI-Africa Project which held capacity-building workshops with heritage professionals in Tanzania and Nigeria.

Jane Downes, University of the Highlands and Islands

Professor Jane Downes is Director of the University of Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute. She has previously worked for the Fenland Archaeological Trust, Glasgow University and Sheffield University where she was Assistant Director of ARCUS and undertook fieldwork in Orkney. In 1999 Jane became a Lecture at University of Highlands and Islands and established the MA/PGDip in Archaeological practice there. Her research interests are in burial archaeology, prehistoric and landscape archaeology, and the management and sustainable development of landscape and cultural heritage resources. She is involved in the research of several World Heritage Sites in connection with these interests.

Urban Development Pressures in World Heritage Sites

Development is considered a primary threat to World Heritage Sites, and particularly impacts those in urban areas. Duncan explored the Historic England, HUL and World Heritage approaches to sustainable development practices. Access the Development case study presentation.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Officer Historic England

Duncan became Chief Executive of the newly formed Historic England in May 2015. Duncan joined Historic England from the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust where he was Chief Executive from 2011 to 2015. From 2002 Duncan was Chief Executive of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College. 

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