Young experts experience the work of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at the “Model World Heritage Committee”

Can world heritage still be saved?

In the run-up to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s 39th meeting in Bonn, 32 young experts from all over the world get stuck into the topic of world heritage. Apart from practice days in the UNESCO world heritage site of Upper Middle Rhine Valley and workshops with international experts, one day was reserved for the simulation game “Model World heritage Committee”, which planpolitik had especially designed for this occasion.

„I yield the floor back to the Chair!“ The sense of fun was palpable as participants of the Model World Heritage Committee practiced following the rules on which a UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting is based. After all, the simulation commissioned by the German UNESCO Commission was to play out as realistically as possible.

However, the scenario up for negotiation was fictional: The Fonta Wildlife Reserve – the only World Heritage site in the fictitious African state of Fontania – is under acute threat from mining, a damn project as well as poaching. For years, the World Heritage Committee has been discussing the possibility of including the reservoir in the List of World Heritage in Danger – not as retribution, but in order to raise awareness of its precarious situation and to mobilise the very much needed support for maintaining it.

In the simulated session, delegates from 21 countries presented their stance on the matter and proceeded to work together on creating a new resolution. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) functioned as the advisory body, and as a very poor country, Fontania was given the opportunity to point out the difficult balancing act between economic development and protection of a World Heritage.

Precisely this balancing of priorities proved to be the main challenge for the delegates. Accordingly, the concluding evaluation with Carméla Quin from UNESCO centred on the question what the UNESCO’s mandate as well as its limitations are, thereby comparing the simulation to reality.

Facts + Figures

Target group

Young experts from all over the world

  • Get familiar with the way a World Heritage committee meeting unfolds
  • Becoming sensitive to questions related to World Heritage protection
  • Negotiation strategies

German Commission for UNESCO


1.5 days

Number of participants



Koblenz & Bonn