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  • Writer's pictureAnkie Petersen

Looking back: World Heritage Young Professionals Forum, Azerbaijan

From the 23rd of June until the 2nd of July, I was part of the #UNESCO World Heritage Young Professionals Forum 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Here, I was able to engage with other young professionals from all over the world and share experiences, visiting cultural sites in Azerbaijan like prehistoric rock art, mud volcanoes and the city of Baku itself. On the first day of the 43rd World Heritage Committee session, I was selected to deliver the Young Professionals statement on the UNESCO world stage. A small recap.


This year, the World Heritage Young Professionals Forum was held in Baku, a city founded on a site inhabited since the Palaeolithic period. The Walled City of Baku represents an outstanding and rare example of a historic urban ensemble and architecture with influence from diverse cultures overtime. The city has experienced contemporary changes, which have affected decisions and actions on heritage protection: it emphasises well, the challenges faced in World Heritage preservation and protection in the 21st Century. Hence, befittingly, the theme of this year’s Forum was chosen as “World Heritage: Local Insights for Global Challenges”.

WHYPF 2019 Group Picture

As participants, we got the chance to immerse ourselves in the topics linked to the theme of the Forum. We visited the World Heritage sites of Walled City of Baku and the Gobustan Rock Art Cultural Landscape, explored various concepts in greater depth, including the New Urban Agenda, the Historic Cultural Landscapes and the Sustainable Development Goals, and participated in multiple discussions, lectures, group work and site visits, led by local and international heritage experts.

During the Forum, we exchanged our ideas, concerns as well as the opportunities to ensure the sustainability of World Heritage. We presented the results of our work in the form of a Declaration on 1 July at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. In the Declaration, we provided local insights to the global challenges of urban heritage and cultural landscapes, acknowledging the need for the local communities to play a central role in the human society-nature interaction.

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