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Sisimiut Conference Report and Recommendations

Sisimiut, Greenland - The NORA Conference Inspires Innovative Approaches to Managing UNESCO Sites for Sustainable Development.

The NORA conference on 14-15 March 2023 "UNESCO-SITES IN A REGIONALLY SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE," aimed to provide UNESCO managers with valuable insights into best practices and generate innovative ideas for managing UNESCO sites in a way that contributes to sustainable development in local communities. The conference explored various aspects of management, including site management, professional networks, community involvement, and stakeholder engagement.

While recognizing that a single conference cannot provide all-encompassing answers, participants agreed on the need for further action, discussions, networking, and the initiation of new projects, networks, and conferences in the coming years. They extended an open invitation to like-minded communities and actors from the Nordic region, Scotland, Canada, and the Baltic Sea region to join in this quest for sustainable development.

Key findings and recommendations from the conference emphasize the importance of utilizing UNESCO sites as catalysts for sustainable development and fostering collaboration, communication, and dynamic approaches to address global challenges. The following recommendations were highlighted:

  1. Supporting the Nordic Vision: Participants commit to actively and strategically utilizing UNESCO sites in the North Atlantic region to implement frameworks such as the CBD post-2020, the UNFCCC Paris Agreement, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Intergenerational dialogue will be fostered, ensuring future voices are included.
  2. Creating a North Atlantic UNESCO Trail: Efforts will be made to establish a trail connecting existing and potential future UNESCO sites, fostering a network and shared narrative across World Heritage, Geoparks, Biosphere, and Intangible World Heritage. This initiative will support place-based sustainable development in the region.
  3. Supporting Local-based Entrepreneurship and Tourism: Participants will focus on supporting entrepreneurship at the local level, promoting community-oriented tourism, and developing impact models and tools for local economic and developmental efforts. Collaboration between NORA, Nordic countries, and UNESCO will be initiated to work on UNESCO site impact models and tools.
  4. Launching Projects for Sustainable Development: Participants commit to launching projects that foster partnerships, education for sustainable development, and tools supporting place-based sustainable development through UNESCO sites. Funding will be sought to support tangible projects that enhance networking, sharing of ideas and experiences, and continuous cultural and developmental practices.
  5. Prioritizing Participatory and Bottom-up Approaches: Acknowledging the importance of participatory processes, ownership, and engagement from local communities, participants emphasized the need to prioritize bottom-up approaches. Initiatives will be developed to include and engage future generations, ensuring a constant focus on participatory practices.

The conference workshop organized participants into five groups to further discuss the conference topics, resulting in five recommendations for future actions.

The NORA conference served as a catalyst for necessary changes and future endeavours, emphasizing the crucial role of collaborative efforts. Conference participants are committed to driving the required development and seek supportive actions from authorities at both the national and macro-regional levels. By taking the first steps themselves, they aim to ignite new initiatives through an inclusive process.

Download the full Conference Report here.

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