What are the concerns of young people with world heritage? ——Review of previous World Heritage Young Professionals Forum
Reprint：Originator: Pan Yanhong, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Tourism at UNESCO Designated Sites, Mar. 22, 2020
Pan Yanhong, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Tourism at UNESCO Designated Sites
The World Heritage Young Professionals Forum(WHYPF) has been held in conjunction with the yearly session of the World Heritage Committee since 1995. A total of 43 forums had been held since 2019 (in some years, two or three forums were held in different places with different themes). The WHYPF is a platform for youth from around the world to discuss topics and exchange ideas related to world heritage. As our youth holds the future of world heritage, their thoughts and concerns are paramount to the direction of our work on world heritage. This article will organize and analyze the themes of the various youth forums in an attempt to understand young people’s key areas of concern regarding world heritage.
I. What is the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum?
The WHYPF is one of the key programs of the World Heritage Education Program which is designed to foster intercultural learning and exchange by bringing students and teachers together from different parts of the world. It has been held in conjunction with the yearly session of the World Heritage Committee since 1995. For students, it is an invaluable opportunity to meet fellow young people from other countries, learn about their heritage, discuss common concerns and, in the process, discover new opportunities or roles for themselves in heritage conservation. For teachers, it is an opportunity to discuss new educational approaches and establish a network of World Heritage educational activities.
Figure1 The 1st World Heritage Young Professionals Forum
The WHYPF has become a forum to catalyze educational and interactive activities concerning global world heritage, and in the process, provides an opportunity to enhance young people’s hands-on skills. Whenever possible, experiential learning activities are organized during every forum. Indeed, for many of these young participants, the most exciting parts of the Forum is the opportunity to meet with members of the World Heritage Committee and its Advisory Bodies and discuss the Convention and its implementation with these members. Furthermore, one of these youth participants will have the opportunity to be the Youth Forum representative and showcase the achievements of the Youth Forum to the World Heritage Committee.
II. Where are previous World Heritage Young Professionals Forum held?
In 1995, the first WHYPF was held in Bergen, Norway. By 2019, 40 forums had been held across the world. Generally, the Forum is held in conjunction with the yearly session of the World Heritage Committee based on close consultation with the host countries.
According to records, most of the WHYPF were held in Europe. Of the 43 forums held to date, 23 were held in Europe, 13 in Asia, 5 in Africa, and 2 in the Americas.
（Annex 1: Places of the WHYPF）
III. What was discussed at the forums?
An analysis of the themes of the previous WHYPF showed that when young people discuss world heritage issues, they focus mainly on how they can participate and do better in world heritage education and how they can better use future opportunities to tackle challenges in this field. They also pay attention to the protection, utilization, and management of heritage, new types of heritage, and local and regional heritage.
（Annex 2: Themes of the WHYPF）
In terms of themes, the early years of the WHYPF had primarily focused on education, especially on issues such as how our youth could participate in world heritage education. In later years of the forums, the themes have changed to include the future of world heritage and the possible threats and challenges facing world heritage. In the recent years of the forums, the focus has shifted to broader issues such as sustainable development and how it could be integrated with world heritage issues and the management of world heritage. The transition in themes demonstrates that young people’s concerns are closely aligned with World Heritage’s causes.
Group photo of the representatives at World Heritage Young Professionals Forum in Azerbaijan, 2019
IV. What is the young people’s role in World Heritage’s causes?
The principal purpose of the WHYPF is to inspire young people and to promote educational and interactive activities on a regional and international level. It is a window through which the youth participants will be able to learn more about world heritage.
The past 43 World Heritage Young Professionals Forum have shown that young people always think about world heritage education, protection, and utilization in the overall World Heritage’s causes. Although the young participants may not be as professional as the administrators, they tend to think in the same direction. They all believe that to conserve world heritage is to protect our future, and to get involved in world heritage education is to participate in the cause of world heritage.
More attention and participation will benefit the world.