The IUCN World Heritage Outlook provides the first comprehensive global assessment of the conservation prospects for natural World Heritage. The system has been developed by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) together with IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN WCPA).

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook assesses each natural World Heritage site every three years through Conservation Outlook Assessments. The results of all assessments are analysed and presented in a report issued at the same time as the updated assessments.

>> Learn more about the IUCN World Heritage Outlook

The purpose of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook is to track the status of all natural World Heritage sites, recognize excellence in their conservation and identify the actions needed to protect these exceptional sites.

IUCN has developed the IUCN World Heritage Outlook to enable monitoring of all natural World Heritage sites in a systematic manner through time, and promote conservation actions to help improve the outlook of these sites. Before the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, only sites affected by serious conservation issues were regularly assessed by IUCN, together with the World Heritage Centre, representing about half of all natural sites. By assessing all natural sites every three years, the high standards of World Heritage conservation can be highlighted, and sites where conservation action is needed can be identified.

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is different from the work IUCN does as an Advisory Body under the World Heritage Convention, but complements that work. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is an independent knowledge tool produced by IUCN that aims to support directly World Heritage sites, government and NGO members of IUCN, and IUCN specialists and partners.

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook does not replace any of the monitoring systems under the World Heritage Convention, but it helps improve IUCN's work in supporting those systems. It complements the World Heritage Convention's Reactive Monitoring system – which is applied only to sites where problems have been identified – by providing an assessment of all sites, and therefore also recognizing well-managed sites and their conservation efforts.

Any new information identified through the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, which should be brought to the attention of the World Heritage Committee, will be communicated to UNESCO by IUCN. The World Heritage Outlook thus enables IUCN to be more proactive, systematic and transparent in its advice to States Parties and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

>> Learn more about IUCN's Advisory Body role

The methodology for the first round of Conservation Outlook Assessments in 2014 was based on a number of existing protected area assessment methodologies, which reflect IUCN's best practice approaches to protected areas, adapted specifically to World Heritage sites. It builds on methodologies and lessons learned from a number of sources including the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, the WCPA/UNESCO Enhancing Our Heritage Toolkit, as well as aspects of the WWF Protected Area Benefits Assessment Tool, and Periodic Reporting.

The methodology was developed through a consultative process with an advisory group involving IUCN specialists and WCPA members, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre staff and World Heritage site managers. In 2011, a pilot was developed for the Arab States to test its validity.

Following the completion of the first round of Conservation Outlook Assessments in 2014, and valuable feedback gathered from assessors, reviewers, and others involved in the consultation process, the methodology was further refined and improved by an IUCN World Heritage Outlook methodology review group in advance of the 2017 update.

>> Learn more about the methodology

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook assesses all World Heritage sites that have been inscribed on the World Heritage List under natural criteria. In cases of mixed sites (natural and cultural), only the natural values are taken into consideration for IUCN's Conservation Outlook Assessments.

Conservation Outlook Assessments are a projection of the potential for a natural World Heritage site to conserve its values over time, based on a desk-based assessment of three elements:

1.    The current state and trend of sites' natural World Heritage values
2.    The threats affecting those values
3.    The effectiveness of protection and management.

The assessments are compiled by IUCN experts, including members of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), and then undergo a rigorous peer-review process. They draw on published information and knowledge provided by IUCN members, partners, site managers and communities. Conservation Outlook Assessments also include additional information on active or potential conservation projects in the sites, and on the ecosystem services and benefits provided by the sites to people.

The first step in preparing Conservation Outlook Assessments is to gather existing information on every natural World Heritage site. This data is mobilized through IUCN's World Heritage Programme, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN's network of member organizations and expert commissions (such as the Species Survival Commission), and consultation with key knowledge holders, including local stakeholders and site managers whenever possible.

This information is compiled and assessed by independent experts against a standardized methodology to ensure consistency. Assessments are then reviewed and revised by other experts and by regional review groups. Site managers are also given an opportunity to provide comments on the assessments for their sites. Conservation Outlook Assessments are given final approval by the IUCN World Heritage Panel before they are published.

>> Learn more about the consultation process

Conservation Outlook Assessments are desk-based and are undertaken by IUCN experts based on the best data available, following a standard methodology.

Each completed Conservation Outlook Assessment goes through a rigorous review process before it is given final approval by the IUCN World Heritage Panel. The system is open to all to provide comment and suggested improvements. If you consider there is either any inaccuracy in the assessments, or new information means that an assessment should be revised, please help us improve the IUCN World Heritage Outlook by providing feedback.

A wide range of stakeholders are consulted during each Conservation Outlook Assessment update, including State Parties, management authorities, site managers, researchers, community groups, IUCN WCPA members and other IUCN Commission members, non-governmental organizations and development agencies. All information provided through consultation is carefully reviewed by independent experts in order to produce each Conservation Outlook Assessment. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is open to all to provide feedback in order to improve or update assessments with new information.

>> Learn more about the consultation process

Consultation is indispensable to the preparation of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is open to continuous input from management authorities and site managers. Where IUCN already has contacts, site managers are invited to contribute information for inclusion in the assessments. We invite site managers who are not already in touch with IUCN to contact us at worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org.

Site managers can get involved by filling out a consultation form and also by providing any additional information on the sites to IUCN. This includes supporting documentation such as new management plans, newsletters, management effectiveness assessments and monitoring reports, for example. Whenever feasible, site managers are also invited to comment on draft Conservation Outlook Assessments. As we further improve the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, we also aim to produce local language translations of assessments, wherever possible, to assist in local consultation and feedback.

>> Download the consultation form

Each Conservation Outlook Assessment has an overall rating. There are five rating categories:

a.    "Good"

The site's values are in good condition and are likely to be maintained for the foreseeable future, provided that current conservation measures are maintained.

b.    "Good with some concerns"

While some concerns exist, with minor additional conservation measures the site's values are likely to be essentially maintained over the long-term.

c.    "Significant concern"

The site's values are threatened and/or may be showing signs of deterioration. Significant additional conservation measures are needed to maintain and/or restore values over the medium to long-term.

d.    "Critical"

The site's values are severely threatened and/or deteriorating. Immediate large-scale additional conservation measures are needed to maintain and/or restore the site's values over the short to medium-term of the values may be lost.

e.    "Data deficient"

Available evidence is insufficient to draw a conclusion.

>> More on the assessment ratings

Conservation Outlook Assessments are updated every three years. The second update of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook is due in late 2020, and will be presented online and in the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 update report. The 2020 update will allow for the identification of trends in the conservation outlook of sites over a six year time period.

Conservation Outlook Assessments also compile information on ecosystem services and benefits provided by natural World Heritage sites. A global overview of these benefits is available through an interactive map, which is complemented by a set of case-studies. You can also download the report "The Benefits of Natural World Heritage".

The most important goal of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook is to promote proactive conservation actions to help improve the outlook for all natural World Heritage sites.  This can be achieved by recognizing successful conservation measures and enabling their replication, and by identifying the most pressing conservation issues facing each site and the actions needed to address them. This information can be used to develop conservation projects on the ground, identify capacity building needs and advocate for more support to World Heritage sites.

In 2016 a first set of Outlook Partnerships were launched with five conservation organisations, working to take advantage of the knowledge provided by the IUCN World Heritage Outlook and translate it into action on the ground for sites of conservation concern. Through establishing site-specific partnerships with the Outlook Partners, IUCN aims to raise the conservation prospects of natural World Heritage sites that need it most. The objective is to develop initiatives and projects, collaboratively with Outlook Partners, to help address the main challenges that these sites are facing and improve the effectiveness of their conservation.

>> Find out more about partners to the IUCN World Heritage Outlook

Periodic Reporting is undertaken every six years by States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and is a self-assessment, in consultation with stakeholders, of: how the State Party applies the World Heritage Convention, whether the values of World Heritage sites within the State Party are maintained over time, and any changing circumstances and state of conservation. Periodic reporting takes place on a regional basis during each six year cycle.

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is an independent assessment, produced by IUCN in consultation with stakeholders, and is updated every three years. Unlike Periodic Reporting, all regions are handled at the same time, providing a global assessment for all natural World Heritage sites. Where information is available through Periodic Reporting, it is used among other sources for the preparation of Conservation Outlook Assessments.

You can access the assessments by exploring the interactive map or through the site search, where you can narrow down results using filters.

The filtered search allows you to search the Conservation Outlook Assessments by site, region, criteria of Outstanding Universal Value, rating, threat, benefits, other international designations and ecosystem types, providing an overview of conservation issues for each of these search criteria.

Each site page contains a summary and a detailed version of the assessment. This information can be used to identify and replicate success, and draw attention to conservation needs.

General information on the IUCN World Heritage Outlook website is available in the three official languages of IUCN (English, French and Spanish), as well as Arabic.

Conservation Outlook Assessments are initially produced in English, French or Spanish. To make the system even more useful, we are starting to produce other language versions of Conservation Outlook Assessments wherever feasible (including local language versions). The conservation outlook assessments for the Arab States will soon be available in Arabic, thanks to the generous support of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH).

IUCN is able to review feedback on assessments submitted in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. We may also be able to review information submitted in other languages, but please contact us before submitting information.

Contact us at worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org to propose a translation.

We welcome any comment on the IUCN World Heritage Outlook or on any individual assessment. You can submit your feedback by filling the online feedback form or via email to worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org. If significant new information becomes available on a particular site, its assessment can be revised by IUCN at any time, and all assessments will be updated at least every three years.

We also encourage you to share your general suggestions on how we can improve the assessments and, most importantly, how we can connect the IUCN World Heritage Outlook to action needed to support natural World Heritage sites and achieve an improved conservation outlook.

>> Send your feedback