Masterclass on Sustainable Development & World Heritage Convention in Bangladesh

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Dhaka Office, in close cooperation with the Advisory Bodies of the World Heritage Convention (ICOMOS, ICCROM, IUCN) successfully organized a two-day online Masterclass on Sustainable Development & World Heritage Convention for Bangladesh stakeholders on 2 and 3 June 2021.
During the 2-day online Masterclass, eight (8) global and national experts served as trainers and facilitators and equipped the 29 participants comprising of government officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Archaeology, the Bangladesh National Commission for UNESCO (BNCU), as well as specialists involved in the protection and management of cultural and natural heritage sites in Bangladesh, with relevant knowledge about and hands-on practices on the management and planning of World Heritage properties in the context of the UNESCO 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage in Bangladesh.
During the opening ceremony on Day 1, Dr. Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Mr. Ziaul Hasan ndc, Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, as well as Mr. Badrul Arefin, Secretary of Ministry of Cultural Affairs, delivered their warm welcomes and wished the masterclass a great success.
The Masterclass had four overall objectives which were outlined by Dr Feng JING, Chief, Asia and the Pacific Unit, World Heritage Centre, in his presentation on “World Heritage and Sustainable Development, Background and Workshop Objectives”. They were:
To deepen the understanding on the WH Committee’s principles, obligations of the State Parties and the monitoring process;
To be familiar with the proactive planning process, with knowledge on Impact Assessments through case studies;
To take part in participative exercise on cultural and natural heritage, to identify necessary steps for planning developmental and/or preservation projects in conformity with the OUV of the World Heritage properties;
To formulate a set of recommendations to move forward.
During Day 1 sessions, a series of issues had been discussed and learnt, including:
Reminders as to the WH Convention and Contemporary Policies as well as World Heritage and Sustainable Development
Discussing the current situation of the management of the World Heritage properties in Bangladesh (the natural and cultural properties were addressed), including The Sundarbans, Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat, and Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur
The Obligations of States Parties of the 1972/WH Convention, including mechanism of monitoring and reporting
Ways of Identifying factors and impacts for planning and impact assessments in and around WH properties
Day 2 sessions focused more on:
Practical aspects of sustainable development and World Heritage conservation.
Specific impact assessment case studies, both from nature and culture sites
Model planning exercises
Coming up with a specific set of recommendations (highlights and way forward) to enhance the conservation and proactive management of natural and cultural heritage properties in Bangladesh
The 2-day virtual masterclass was concluded by Ms. Nao Hayashi who summarized highlights and some ideas for a way forward. Ms. Beatrice Kaldun, UNESCO Representative to Bangladesh, who highlighted UNESCO’s commitment to and efforts in supporting the conservation and management of Bangladesh's heritage including by building capacity, by creating platforms for knowledge exchange, and by promoting international standards manifested in the World Heritage Convention.
The virtual masterclass was fruitful and productive. Participants echoed that it was a great platform to exchange knowledge and expertise among experts and stakeholders towards strengthening the understanding of the 1972 Convention and the conservation and proactive management of World Heritage in Bangladesh, especially the planning, assessment and monitoring of heritage with a view to maintaining the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties in Bangladesh.