UNESCO World Heritage Convention
The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO World Heritage Convention) was adopted in Paris, France in November 1972 and came into force in December 1975. The Convention is a unique international instrument in that it seeks to protect both cultural and natural heritage.
The Convention defines the kind of sites which can be considered for inscription of the World Heritage List (ancient monuments, museums, biodiversity and geological heritage all come within the scope of the Convention) and sets out the duties of States Parties in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting them. Although many World Heritage sites fall into either the 'cultural' or 'natural' categories, a particularly important aspect of the Convention is its ability to recognise landscapes that combine these values, and where the biological and physical aspects of landscape have evolved alongside human activity.
Implementation in the UK
The UK ratified the Convention in May 1984. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the UK's general compliance with the Convention, and for nominating sites in England. The Devolved Administrations in Wales, Scotland, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency are responsible for choosing sites to nominate from their areas. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for sites in the UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs), and the Ministry of Justice is responsible for Crown Dependencies.
JNCC provides scientific advice to The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in respect of the operation of the Convention in recognising and managing natural sites in the UK and globally. The UK is no longer a member of the World Heritage Committee but plays an active role in development of the Convention. One key aspect of JNCC's recent involvement is to link the work of the Convention and JNCC's involvement in biodiversity in the UKOTs. The Convention imposes responsibilities on the UK for managing its OT World Heritage sites but also offers opportunities to share conservation experience with similar locations around the world.