OECS Moving Towards Establishing World Heritage Sites Network

The OECS Commission is actively working to create a network of World Heritage Sites within the sub-regional grouping.

This initiative seeks to improve the management and conservation of the region’s rich cultural and natural heritage.

Currently, five OECS member states have sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List:

They are Antigua and Barbuda with the Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites; Dominica with the Morne Trois Pitons National Park; Martinique with the Volcanoes and Forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique; St Kitts-Nevis with the Brimstone Hill Fortress; and St Lucia with the Piton Management Area.

Additionally, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines collectively have 11 sites on the tentative list.

The OECS said that a workshop was held earlier this month that focused on several key objectives establishing a network of World Heritage Sites, strengthening site management, increasing income generation opportunities to support livelihoods and encourage community involvement, sharing best practices and lessons learned, and contributing to preserving biodiversity and minimizing threats to biodiversity loss within these sites.

According to UNESCO, listing in this prestigious category raises awareness among citizens and governments for heritage preservation, leading to increased protection and conservation efforts. This recognition may also result in financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee.

Dominica’s Environment, Rural Modernization, and Kalinago Upliftment Minister, Cozier Frederick, has emphasised the importance of preserving heritage for future generations and highlighted the role of World Heritage Sites in preserving culture and natural spaces.

“The trust assets passed on to us by ancestors can be kept in good standing for future generations … We’ve realised that the preservation of our heritage and natural spaces is important for several reasons. We’ve realised that the World Heritage Sites help to preserve our culture as a critical part of our movement, and it’s especially important for us as post-colonial Caribbean States.”

Head of the OECS Commission’s Environmental Sustainability Division, Chamberlain Emmanuel, underscored the benefits of establishing a network of sites in the OECS, including raising awareness, enhancing protection and conservation, and potentially receiving financial assistance and expert advice from the World Heritage Committee.

He urged those attending the workshop to “fully participate, share your thoughts, experiences, doubts and ideas that will contribute to effective co-creation, as we seek to operationalize the vision of a network which can have tremendous impact on the world heritage sites and the critical biodiversity and other natural and cultural features contained in them and many benefits that support sustainable livelihoods in the region”.

The three-day workshop was funded through the European Union’s Biodiversity Support Programme in ACP Coastal Environments (BioSPACE), geared at supporting and improving the management and sustainable use of coastal and marine resources in the region.

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