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News | Dolomites and Wadden Sea, an exchange between two UNESCO sites

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26 September 2017


The international role of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation goes from strength to strength:

the focus was on the #Dolomites2040 participatory process in Germany at the annual conference organised by the Secretariat of the UNESCO Site Wadden Sea –Waddenzee – Wattenmeer – Vadehavet


The Wadden Sea Site stretches along the coast of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, and is shaped by the tides and currents of the North Sea. The highest ground here are the dykes built by man to protect the land from the sea. The landscape is in stark contrast to the jagged horizon of the Dolomites. Yet many of the characteristics and challenges faced by the Wadden Sea Site are similar to those of the Dolomites. First, both Sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List following selection criterion 8, namely for their geological importance: one site is a living archipelago which is constantly changing and evolving, as can be seen by the naked eye in the Google satellite images taken over the past decades, the other is a fossil archipelago dating back to the Triassic. The two UNESCO Sites share the challenge of jointly managing a Property which is a single entity from an ecological point of view but which has been divided up by man. The Wadden Sea borders the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, each with their respective language and authorities: obvious differences apart, the Dolomites also have different linguistic and administrative borders.

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How do you overcome the difficulties of shared management? How do you deal with the problem of depopulation in certain areas of the Site and the sustainable management of tourism? How can we promote the unique features of each individual place? But, most important of all, how do we engage such a varied population in the decisions involving their future and the future of the Property, without forgetting local pride?

These were the questions which the Secretariat of the UNESCO Wadden Sea Site and the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation discussed on Wadden Sea Day. It was a great opportunity for the Foundation to exchange ideas and experiences and the Director, Marcella Morandini, presented the #Dolomites2040 participatory process, bringing to the table this key project which took place in 2015 and is today at the very heart of the Site’s Overall Management Strategy.

“International cooperation with other UNESCO Sites is crucial – said the President of the UNESCO Dolomites Foundation, Mariagrazia Santoro, referring to the meeting between the Dolomites and the Wadden Sea – international partnerships should be encouraged and cultivated over time, sharing good practices to improve Site management and the involvement of local people”.

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