CASE STUDY: Improving the evaluation process for World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Site Bath

Many sites around the world aspire to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and competition for this internationally renowned accolade is strong. The UK’s approach, under the leadership of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is that only the very best Sites should be nominated for World Heritage status and it has put in place a rigorous evaluation process for Sites wishing to proceed to nomination.

Following a wave of site evaluations in 2013, it was agreed that it would be useful to evaluate the process prior to the next round of assessment. The results of that independent evaluation, conducted by the UKNC, informed a series of recommendations to improve the UK’s World Heritage Site application process. The UKNC’s recommendations (including organising briefing seminars with representatives from the aspiring sites to actively encourage dialogue and iterative review of emerging evidence in liaison with national bodies) were taken forward by DCMS and the UKNC’s Culture Chair was invited by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to chair the Expert Panel for the Technical Evaluation of sites.

As Chair, the UKNC’s Culture Director convened an Expert Panel of the UK’s leading, independent culture and heritage experts to consider applications for World Heritage Status. The UKNC Culture Chair recently shared the conclusions of the Expert Panel which have been accepted and taken forward by DCMS, paving the way for the next World Heritage Site to be designated in the UK.