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 Assessment updates, available online on this website. The results of assessments are also analysed and presented in a report issued at the same time as the assessment updates.
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.
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 Enhancing Our Heritage Toolkit, the Managing Natural World Heritage Manual, and the World Heritage Periodic Reporting questionnaire (Cycles I and II).
The standardised methodology was developed by IUCN in 2011 by an IUCN-led technical advisory group involving IUCN specialists and WCPA members, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre staff and World Heritage site managers. Later that year, a pilot was developed for the Arab States to test its validity, and in 2014 the first assessment cycle was launched for all sites, followed by an update in 2017.
Prior to each new assessment cycle, the methodology is further refined by IUCN based on feedback collected during the previous assessment cycle. This adaptive approach to the methodology is intended to enable the improvement of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook methodology over time, but in a manner that ensures assessments are consistent and comparable between cycles.
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 conservation projects in sites, and on the ecosystem services and benefits provided by 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 mobilised through IUCN's World Heritage Programme, the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, IUCN's network of member organisations and expert commissions (such as the IUCN Species Survival Commission), and consultation with key knowledge-holders, including local stakeholders and site managers whenever possible.
This information is compiled and assessed by experts according to a standardised methodology to ensure consistency. These assessments are subsequently reviewed internally to verify that they meet the required standards. Inputs are then sought from external peer reviewers, followed by review from IUCN’s operational regions. Wherever possible, site managers are invited to fact check and provide comments and updates, which are considered for the final version of the assessment. Conservation Outlook Assessments are given final approval by the IUCN World Heritage Panel before they are published.
Conservation Outlook Assessments are desk-based and are undertaken by 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, and published online. Factual corrections can be integrated into assessments at any time; if you want to submit a factual correction, please contact us via this feedback form.
A wide range of stakeholders are consulted during each Conservation Outlook Assessment update, including: site managers and stakeholders involved in the management of sites (e.g. IUCN Member organisations, government authorities, non-governmental organisations, community groups, and international agencies); IUCN Commission members (in particular the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the IUCN Species Survival Commission); the IUCN Secretariat, and researchers and the scientific community. All information provided through consultation is carefully reviewed by experts in order to produce each Conservation Outlook Assessment. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook is open to all for input, and we welcome any feedback that you may be able to provide to support the accuracy of site information. If you want to submit feedback on a Conservation Outlook Assessment for a site, please contact us via this feedback form.
Consultation is indispensable to the preparation of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook welcomes input from government authorities and site managers, and where IUCN already has contacts, site managers and government authorities are invited to contribute information for inclusion in Conservation Outlook Assessments, as well as fact check, provide updates and comments on final draft assessments before they are finalised and published online. 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 sites to IUCN. This includes supporting documentation such as new management plans, newsletters, management effectiveness assessments and monitoring reports, for example. Where IUCN already has contacts, site managers are also invited to comment on draft Conservation Outlook Assessments. In the future we will also aim to produce local language translations of assessments, wherever possible, to assist in local consultation and feedback.
Each Conservation Outlook Assessment has an overall rating. There are five rating categories:
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.
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 or the values may be lost.
e. "Data deficient"
Available evidence is insufficient to draw a conclusion.
Conservation Outlook Assessments are updated every three years. The second update of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook was launched in late 2020, and is presented on this website and in the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 report. The 2020 update has enabled 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 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.
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 on this website by exploring the interactive map on the homepage, or through the explore sites page, 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, and benefits.
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, thanks to the generous support of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH).
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.
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 at worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org before submitting information.
Contact us at worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org to propose a translation.
We welcome any comments on the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, including feedback regarding the accuracy of Conservation Outlook Assessment information. You can submit your feedback by filling the online feedback form or via email to worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org.