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Assessing potential World Heritage marine sites in the Western Indian Ocean


Institutes (4)  Top 
  • Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (VLIZ), more, partner
  • UNESCO; Marine Programme, more, partner
  • IUCN Headquarters - International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more, partner
  • Vlaamse overheid, more, sponsor

Global and regional context

Presently, only 45 World Sites (out of a total of nearly 936) are listed specifically for their coastal and/or marine values, on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Within the Indian Ocean region, only two marine sites are inscribed in the World Heritage list: iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa and Aldabra Atoll in Seychelles.
Several reports however, illustrate that various unique coastal and marine environments with potential Outstanding Universal Value exist in the Indian Ocean, in particular in areas under the jurisdiction of African countries.

This project concentrates on the development of a regional comparative assessment of potential areas with Outstanding Universal Value in the Indian Ocean with a focus on areas under jurisdiction of nine countries. The project is developed in support of the World Heritage Global Strategy and aims at improving a balanced and credible representation of marine sites on the World Heritage List

Aims and expected outcomes
The objective of the work is to identify new marine sites with potential Outstanding Universal Value in the Indian Ocean and, in particular, in areas under the jurisdiction of: Comoros, France (Mayotte & LaReunion), Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa and Tanzania. This identification is based on a thorough analysis of exceptional ecological and biological marine features in the Indian Ocean.

Furthermore, the project is serving as a pilot initiative toward applying a more science-based approach for the identification of new potential marine World Heritage sites globally. Over the mid-long term, it is envisioned that the science-based framework developed for this region, will be replicated to other marine ecoregions which are equally non- or underrepresented on the World Heritage list.

The project is expected to provide an overview of marine areas with potential Outstanding Universal Value in the Western Indian Ocean, and particularly in areas under the jurisdiction of Kenya, Tanzania, France, South-Africa, Madagascar, Comores, Mozambique, Seychelles and Mauritius. While the World Heritage Convention does not apply to areas beyond national jurisdiction, the project will not necessarily exclude those areas.

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