Since the year 2000, the Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) initiative has been testing an innovative model for engaging communities in the conservation and shared governance of protected areas considered to be the "global commons" of humankind. An initiative of the GEF SGP and United Nations Foundation (UNF), COMPACT has been working with communities near eight current/proposed UNESCO World Heritage sites in Africa, Asia, Meso-America and the Caribbean. Through extensive on-the-ground experience, and a participatory methodology that integrates a scientific approach, COMPACT has been demonstrating that community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in globally significant protected areas.
On 23 June 2013, at the 37th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 17-26 June 2013, the GEF SGP launched a 12-year report entitled 'COMPACT: Engaging Local Communities in the Stewardship of World Heritage'. Panelists at the book launch included: Mr. Guy DeBonnet (Chief of the Special Projects Unit, UNESCO World Heritage Centre), Mr. Terence Hay-Edie (Programme Advisor, GEF SGP Central Programme Management Team), and Ms. Fatou Sambh Ndiaye (Chef Division Etudes et Amenagements, Direction des Parcs Nationaux du Senegal ). Speaking on behalf of her government, Ms. Ndiaye noted the significant contribution made by COMPACT to improved conservation through the involvement of local communities in the co-management of the park, the livelihood benefits accruing to local communities resulting from income generation projects, as well as for the empowerment of women’s organisations.
A distinguished panel of discussants including Mr. Tim Badman (Director, IUCN World Heritage Programme), Mr. Max Ooft (Association of Indigenous Village Leaders in Suriname, VIDS), Mr. Cyril Kormos (IUCN WCPA Vice Chair for World Heritage), Mr. Jonathan Putnam (US National Parks Service), and Mr. Rajendra Shende (TERRE India) provided further comments on the relevance of the COMPACT approach for the engagement of local communities and indigenous peoples in the governance of World Heritage sites. The discussants welcomed the preparation of an updated and expanded Toolkit on the COMPACT methodology for application in other World Heritage sites and contexts around the world.
The COMPACT 12-year report, compiled and edited with the support of Ms. Jessica Brown, Chair of the IUCN Specialist Group on Category V protected landscapes, introduces the COMPACT model and reviews its twelve years of experience in providing small grants towards the shared governance of World Heritage sites. Individual chapters, written by SGP country staff from each participating protected area, illustrate how COMPACT has worked across diverse socio-economic and ecological settings, highlighting the principles underlying behind its community-driven approach, and its key planning frameworks. The publication explores lessons learned from COMPACT concerning the effective governance of protected areas, techniques of community engagement, linking conservation to local livelihoods, trans-boundary cooperation, as well as other issues key to sustaining the landscapes/seascapes of World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and protected landscapes generally.
Kishore Rao, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, noted that "Local communities and indigenous peoples have been the custodians of many World Heritage sites for centuries. Through the twelve years of the COMPACT initiative, we have learned a lot on how to engage these communities in addressing today's numerous challenges for the protection and management of these globally significant sites and landscapes. Through this book, we hope these lessons learned can be extended to the entire global network of World Heritage sites."
You can download the publication here.