CWSS at International Symposium on Korean Tidal Flats UNESCO World Heritage

The first anniversary of the “Getbol, Korean Tidal Flat” World Heritage Site, inscribed on the list in July 2021, was celebrated with an international symposium at the Suncheon Bay, one of the four components of the natural World Heritage property. About 90 participants from ministries, provinces and local communities, as well as NGOs and local user groups attended this one-day symposium on 18 November 2022. The symposium addressed the challenges in management and monitoring, as well as involvement of various stakeholder groups, in specific the fishing village association when it comes to local activities.

Upon invitation, the keynote speech was held by Harald Marencic, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS). Marencic introduced the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site and reflected on the 13-year experiences with this designation. “With the designation as World Heritage Site, the Wadden Sea has achieved further support protecting the site by engaging more stakeholders over the last decade”.

Over two sessions, the symposium looked back what has been achieved since the inscription and how future management of the Korean World Heritage Site could look like. The following panel discussion gave room to many interactions and discussions, as well as addressed cultural aspects of “Fishing Villages “. Further topics were the increasing of sustainability, ecotourism, and communication and awareness. All these topics will also be addressed in the second phase of the Korea inscription as requested by the World Heritage Committee, namely, to extend the property with nine further components until 2025. Most of these components at the west coast are in the northern part nearby the capital city of Seoul, where infrastructure development is one of the main management challenges.

During the symposium, the development of an integral management plan for the Korean tidal flats, as requested by the World Heritage Committee for 2021, was discussed, as the need for unified management and communication of a serial site with 13 components is crucial. The single integrated management plan for the Wadden Sea, to be adopted at the Trilateral Governmental Conference at the end of November in Wilhelmshaven, was mentioned as an example of how to strategically address the various management challenges. CWSS was seen as a role model organisation to coordinate the activities between the different components of this serial nomination and a further exchange on the management plan development was welcomed.

In preparation of the second inscription phase, an international advisory body will be established by Korea in November 2022 supporting the extension of the property with additional nine components. The Korean partners of CWSS expressed that also experts from the Wadden Sea should join the group. "This would not only enhance the existing collaboration and but also underline the global responsibility of both World Heritage properties to protect and enhance the Outstanding Universal Values of these irreplaceable natural sites", says Marencic.