Compact: Engaging Local Communities in Stewardship of World Heritage
Though they have defined boundaries, World Heritage sites are very much a part of the communities in which they are located. As such, they provide rich opportunities to develop and promote effective models for integrating compatible human uses with the protection of ecosystem functions and biodiversity.
World Heritage sites have the potential to showcase the effective integration of sustainable local development with conservation by demonstrating how conservation can contribute to local and national economic development, culture, and pride. With this vision and aim in mind, the UN Foundation joined forces over a decade ago with the GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by UNDP to develop and implement an innovative and highly decentralized programme – the Community Management of Protected Areas Conservation (COMPACT) initiative.
Since 2000, the COMPACT programme has been working with communities living in the vicinity of eight World Heritage Sites in Africa, Asia, Meso-America and the Caribbean. Through extensive on-the-ground experience and a participatory methodology that integrates an evidence-based approach, COMPACT has rigorously tested the claim that community-based initiatives can significantly increase the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in globally significant protected areas while also improving local livelihoods.