top of page

The Strategic Objectives of the World Heritage Convention: the “five C‘s”

The UNESCO World Heritage refers to its five C’s, which constitute the “strategic objectives” of the World Heritage Convention: credibility, Conservation, capacity-building, communication and communities. In 2002, at the 26th session of the World Heritage Committee in Budapest, four “C’s” were adopted, namely: credibility, conservation, capacity-building and communication. These four strategic objectives were to promote the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. In 2007, upon proposal of New Zealand, the fifth C: community, was added by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session (Christchurch, New Zealand, 23rd June – 2nd July 2007).

Following the development of the World Heritage List towards an unbalanced character, it became clear that correction-measures had to be undertaken. The first, early attempt was the “Global Strategy for a representative, balanced and credible World Heritage List”, which was adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 18th session in Phuket in 1994. Consequently, “Regional Global Strategy Action Plans” were developed and examined by the World Heritage Committee. These Actions Plans focused primarily on Capacity Building.


The five Strategic Objectives – the “five C’s”

The five strategic objectives represent the response to the increasing demands for a sustainable, comprehensive and inclusive implementation of the World Heritage Convention:

1. Strengthen the Credibility of the World Heritage List;

2. Ensure the effective Conservation of World Heritage Properties;

3. Promote the development of effective Capacity-building in States Parties;

4. Increase public awareness, involvement and support for World Heritage through Communication.

5. Enhance the role of Communities in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.



The first “C” refers to the credibility of the World Heritage Convention and especially to the credibility of the World Heritage List. The Convention enjoys high popularity among the World community – 193 State Parties have joined the Convention. However, its ratification must not remain just a “symbol” to belong to “civilised” nations. The Convention should be a powerful and efficient tool to protect the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the World.

Moreover, the World Heritage List constitutes for sure the most visible expressions of the Convention, must represent the universal value of World Heritage. Consequently, the List has to be “balanced” in terms of regional representation on the one hand and concerning cultural and natural categories on the other hand. Consequently, the still prevailing character of the List as European-culturally dominated has to be directed towards a more balanced structure representing equally cultural- and natural features from all over the World.


This goal should be achieved through the identification of “underrepresented” cultural and natural categories, the harmonisation of the national tentative lists and through encouraging the nomination of underrepresented categories.



The effective conservation of World Heritage properties represents one of the most important tasks in order to preserve the outstanding universal value (OUV) of the World Heritage sites. Consequently, World Heritage does not mean only the listing of new properties on the List. The preservation of the OUV has to be achieved through an adequate, long-term legislative, regulatory, institutional and / or traditional protection and management (e.g. through a management system or management plan), through adequately delineated boundaries for effective protection and by linking conservation, daily management and use with sustainable development.



The promotion of developing of effective capacity-building measures in the States Parties is for the World Heritage Committee of utmost importance. In order to achieve this goal, the World Heritage Committee has developed its global training strategy. The strategy reflects the high level of skills and multidisciplinary approach which is necessary for the protection, conservation and presentation of World Heritage. “The primary goal of the Global Training Strategy is to ensure that necessary skills are developed by a wide range of actors for better implementation of the Convention. In order to avoid overlap and effectively implement the Strategy, the Committee will ensure links to other initiatives such as the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List and Periodic Reporting.” Consequently, the Committee will annually review relevant training issues, assess training needs and will also make recommendations for future training initiatives.



Communication represents an essential tool to promote and disseminate the meaning of World Heritage. Through communication the values and quality of the World Heritage properties should be understood on all levels, e.g. on international, national, regional and local level, for owners, local communities as well as for investors and other stakeholders. Communication should serve to share information between the concerned stakeholders and the dissemination of “best practises”. Through the communication with donors, local stakeholders and with investors the coordination of activities and strategies should be improved as well as the dialogue between (national and local) authorities with the civil society concerning the management and the future of the World Heritage property should be enabled or even improved. An important aspect represents the awareness raising of the local communities and the general public.



The 5th “C”, which was added in 2007, refers to the important role of the communities in establishing the World Heritage List and in the daily management, promotion and development of World Heritage. The local communities as the “bearer” of a World Heritage property should be recognised as key actors in the process of identification, management and sustainable development of a property. The involvement of local communities should be based on constructive dialogue and should enable an elaborated decision-making opportunity between all stakeholders. Community-involvement should lead to a mutual understanding and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the protection and development of World Heritage sites. Through an appropriate comprehensive management-approach at the World Heritage site an efficient participatory-system should be implemented.

MMag. DDr. Peter Strasser, LL.M.

bottom of page