What did our young participants do at the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum? —— Contents and formats of previous World Heritage Young Professionals Forum
Reprint：Originator:Pan Yanhong, UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Tourism at UNESCO Designated Sites, Mar. 24, 2020
The World Heritage Young Professionals Forum(WHYPF) is one of the main activities of the World Heritage Education Programme designed to foster intercultural learning and exchange by bringing students and teachers together from different parts of the world and promote the development of the World Heritage cause by imparting the value of heritage to them. Since the first World Heritage Young Professionals Forum held in 1995, 43 youth forums had been held around the world. This article focuses on the contents and formats of the previous World Heritage Young Professionals Forum to help young people interested in participating in the forum to better understand and prepare for it, so that they can have fruitful exchanges with other participants, showcase their talents and in the process, gain invaluable experience and personal growth at the WHYPF2021.
I. What are the activities of the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum?
Each of the past 43 World Heritage Young Professionals Forum lasted about 7-10 days and generally included activities in the following three aspects:
(1) Learn about the work related to world heritage. During the forum, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, authoritative heritage experts, scholars and managers would introduce the work of the World Heritage Committee, the status quo and problems of the World Heritage’s causes and related knowledge systems to the delegates.
(2) Exchange the experiences and achievements of the World Heritage cause of different countries. During the forum, delegates gave presentations and speeches on world heritage-related issues, and young representatives from various countries had detailed and fruitful discussions.
(3) Form a declaration of the WHYPF. During the forum, representatives of participating countries would conduct complete exchanges and discussions revolving around themes and issues of mutual concerns and form a declaration before the end of the forum, which would then be read and reported to the session of the World Heritage Committee.
Figure 1 Group photo of representatives of the 43rd WHYPF
II. What are the formats of activities for the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum?
Compared with the sessions of the World Heritage Committee, the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum enjoys greater flexibility and diversity in format. The previous WHYPF were mainly in the following formats:
(1) Experts’ keynote speeches and special reports on forum topics. During the forum, the conference organizers generally invited subject matter experts specialized in the forum themes to give keynote speeches or special reports on certain issues, and give authoritative explanations on world heritage-related issues to the young participants around the world.
(2) Presentation by delegates. During the forum, young representatives from various countries presented their understandings and suggestions derived through their research or lived experiences on world heritage work through relevant case studies.
(3) Themed- centered Roundtables or workshops. During the forum, roundtables, debates or workshops on the forum themes or sub-themes would be arranged after the keynote speeches or delegate speeches, where representatives could air their opinions and make recommendations.
(4) Visit heritage sites or handicraft experiential activities. During the forum, the organizers usually arranged for representatives to conduct on-site visits and surveys at the World Heritage sites near the forum venue and sometimes arranged hands-on handicraft experiences to provide participants with a deeper understanding of world heritages.
(5) Photography or art exhibitions. Occasionally, the WHYPF would arrange for the representatives to participate in photo or art exhibitions to showcase the artistic value and charm of heritages.
(6) Model session of World Heritage Committee. In recent years, it has been popular to set up a simulated session of the World Heritage Committee at the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum. Under the guidance of experts, the participating representatives simulate the main procedures of the session of the World Heritage Committee, which allows them to experience World Heritage work in a more detailed and practical way.
(7) Participate in the World Heritage Committee. Typically, before the end of the Youth Forum, the participants would reach a consensus on the contents of the sessions, adopt a joint declaration of the WHYPF, and select a representative to make a speech and read the declaration at the session of the World Heritage Committee.
Table 1 List of activities of previous WHYPF
Source: based on https://whc.unesco.org/en/youth-forum/
Figure 3 Visits to heritage sites during European Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2019
The UNESCO had decided to hold World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2021 in Fuzhou, China. This offers an opportunity for China to show the world its achievements in the protection and use of world heritage. Chinese youths concerned with world heritage will have an opportunity to play a bigger role in their homeland. We invite our young friends interested in the World Heritage cause to continue to pay close attention to WHYPF2021, and we also look forward to the participation of more Chinese youths in this year’s forum and their outstanding performance.