11 July 2007
The UNESCO Almaty Office organized in cooperation with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, a Sub-Regional Workshop in Almaty, on 18 and 19 July 2007, to discuss the inscription of Western Tien-Shan on the UNESCO World Heritage List as transboundary natural site.In spite of its remarkable historical background and rich biodiversity, Central Asia remains one of the most under-represented regions on the World Heritage List: the sub-region, with 5 countries, has only 9 cultural sites inscribed, while there are, today, 851 sites on the World Heritage List, out of which 660 cultural sites, 25 mixed properties (cultural and natural) and 166 natural sites.
The sub-region has many cultural sites and historic towns along the “Silk Roads” that previously flourished as meeting points of different cultures. Recently, important efforts have been made by the State Parties of the sub-region and donors for the conservation and promotion of those historic sites, with technical and financial help from the international community. However, much remains to be done for natural heritage.
The West Tien-Shan was targeted as a possible transboundary natural heritage site involving Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan through consultation with the concerned authorities, and on the occasion of the recent completion of the World Bank funded “Central Asia Trans-Boundary Biodiversity Project” that aimed to develop sustainable approaches to preserving the biodiversity in the mountainous region of West Tien-Shan. The preparatory work undertaken in the framework of this initiative for the establishment of the biosphere reserve in the West Tien-Shan underlined the richness and uniqueness of this ecosystem and the importance of protecting it through common mechanisms.
The present workshop bring together representatives and experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, as well as international experts from UNESCO, with the following objectives:
• To elaborate and adopt a strategy for the preparation of the nomination of the West Tien-Shan as transboundary natural heritage site;
• To provide State Parties with guidelines for the preparation of the nomination file;
• To ensure a better understanding by the State Parties of the Outstanding Universal Value of the West Tien Shan
The Sub-Regional Meeting also contribute to fostering collaboration between experts and various partners involved and interested in the protection of biodiversity in Central Asia. It will lay the ground for possible future cooperation between UNESCO, the World Bank, regional and international experts and responsible authorities in this field, ultimately reinforcing partnerships and institutional mechanisms for the protection of biodiversity.