Independent evaluation of the World heritage nomination training series
The UNITAR Hiroshima Office (HO) has organized the World Heritage Training Series (hereafter “Training Series") annually since 2003. This evaluation assesses the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impacts of the Training Series since 2012, as well as seeks to identify any problems or challenges that the series encountered and to issue recommendations.
The Training Series is comprised of an annual five-day workshop which provides a detailed examination of the World Heritage nomination process and requirements, utilizing expert insight and experience, as well as exchanging know-how on best practices and case studies.
The evaluation was designed to combine a mix of different methods to gather adequate types and levels of data, including a review of documents; a brief on-line survey; interviews; and one focus group discussion.
Limitations include the partial lack of an explicit theory of change, the relative small size of the activity and its short time-frame, changing contact details of former participants and an assessment of a limited period (2012 to 2017) rather than the full programme.
Key Evaluation Findings
The UNITAR training emphasis on nomination preparation remains a relevant niche in the wider global context.
Peace and conservation emerged as a critical theme offering a potential field of further engagement given recent trends linking conflict resolution and World Heritage.
Whereas the training focus responds closely to UNITAR’s strategic focus on protecting cultural and natural heritage, changing conditions offer an opportunity to rethink how best to achieve it and with what training and organizational modalities.
Participant assessments suggest overall effective delivery of training sessions themselves, although declining participant numbers and the ultimate cancellation of the 2017 training session present implementation challenges in need of attention.
While the shift to a participant payment scheme has reduced ability to target audiences, it is not per se an obstacle to reaching the right audiences if complementary sponsor arrangements are put in place.
Despite multiple attempts, institutional coordination mechanisms between UNITAR, UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre are considered rather weak.
For a relatively modest investment, expenses lower than budgets projected and high levels of voluntary engagement, the Training Series have been maintained for the last 15 years.
While the participant payment scheme lowered the immediate costs of the Training Series in the short-term, this has not led to great efficiency due to declining participant numbers and lowering the ability of UNITAR to target audiences most in need.
Evaluation findings generally point to high levels of individual learning outcomes with the majority indicating frequent to occasional use and application of knowledge obtained. Fields of application were closely tied to key aspects of preparing World Heritage site nominations.
There is a need to invest in sustaining the results of the Training Series in terms of its learning approaches, capacity building approaches and knowledge products.
Scenario 1: PHASE-OUT and LEGACY: Phasing out and knowledge product development
Scenario 1 Recommendations:
- The HO maintains funding for the WHS for the time necessary to phase out adequately.
- The HO strategizes with World Heritage Centre, UNITAR resource persons and Advisory Bodies.
- The HO develops a two-page phase out concept note indicating phase-out objectives, outputs, activities and time-frame.
- The HO allocates funding for the Phasing Out concept including the production of training tools and knowledge.
Scenario 2: MAINTAIN and IMPROVE. Training module maintained and updated boosting integration efforts with upstream and wider Capacity Building efforts.
Scenario 2 Recommendations:
- The HO conducts consultation with World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies about their readiness and ability to formalize training partnership.
- The HO, in consultation with partners, develops a theory of change and explicit programme framework with the inclusion of specific outcome indicators.
- The HO develops new advertisement material and longer time-frame for recruitment.
- The HO explores opportunities for scholarship and sponsorship arrangements.
Scenario 3: REFORM and REVITALIZE: Shift to and/ or add complementary training focus on peace, conflict resolution and heritage
Scenario 3 Recommendations:
- The HO explores donor interest in supporting the development of a new course on heritage, peace and conflict resolution.
- The HO engages with the Hiroshima prefecture in exploring how to design and ground such a training series with the local experience and networks.
- The HO engages with UNESCO and the World Heritage Centre in designing it in partnership notably by identifying stakeholder needs in key conflict-ridden heritage sites.
- The HO identifies and allocates adequate resources for a two to three-year trial period.
- Offering participants to learn through the historical context of Hiroshima is a unique entry point to engage with dynamics of heritage and peace.
- Learning approaches structured around case-studies, mock Committee meetings and feedback from a panel offered "real life" learning opportunities.
- Learning the technical 'secret language' of World Heritage was considered a major advantage of the workshop.
- The combination of UNITAR training experience with World Heritage expertise offered a basis for adaptive approaches.
- Reaching target audiences: changing conditions and the need for new approaches.
- Bringing natural and cultural heritage professionals together facilitates exchange.