Kenya has been elected as a member to the World Heritage Committee during the 24th Session of the General Assembly of State Parties in Paris.
Kenya formally ratified the 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, also known as the “World Heritage Convention,” on Wednesday.
The country previously served on the World Heritage Committee for a term of four years from 2005 to 2009 and has since maintained an active role in promoting the objectives of the 1972 Convention.
Aisha Jumwa, Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage who led the Kenyan delegation, noted that the election underscores Kenya’s dedication to cultural and heritage conservation as evidenced in its nomination and subsequent listing of 7 properties of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), on the World Heritage List.
Among the properties, four are cultural sites which include Lamu Old Town, the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests, Fort Jesus, and Thimlich Ohinga Archeological Site while three are natural sites which include the Lake Turkana National Parks, Mount Kenya National Park, and Kenya Lake System in the Great rift Valley.
The CS highlighted ongoing efforts by the National Museums of Kenya to secure the inscription of its eighth world heritage property (the Historical town and archeological site of Gedi), whose file was finalized with support from the Oman Funds Trust in collaboration with the World Heritage, and officially submitted in January 2023.
The technical evaluation mission to Kenya on the item took place in September 2023. The Advisory Bodies have examined the file and have invited Kenya to an evaluation review panel meeting with ICOMOS on Saturday, 25th November 2023.
Kenya has also revised its tentative list currently with 17 sites on the World Heritage Tentative List which it has deposited at the world heritage center at UNESCO.
CS Jumwa thanked UNESCO and the international community for the generous support towards the conservation and protection of its world heritage properties.
The World Heritage Committee, during the Bahrain session in 2018, listed Lake Turkana National Parks on the World Heritage List in Danger. Factors such as the impacts of the Gilgel Gibe 3 Dam and the Kuraz Sugar Project in Ethiopia on the Lake Basin, along with the threats of poaching and encroachment leading to declines in wildlife populations, were cited as endangering the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.
Kenya recently submitted a Desired State of Conservation plan (DSCOR) for Lake Turkana National Parks and is awaiting information from the World Heritage Centre on the next steps. These deliberate and sustained efforts by Kenya underscore the nation’s commitment to conserve and protect its natural and cultural heritage, aligning with the vision of the World Heritage Convention.
The CS however affirmed that the inclusion of Kenya in the influential committee, under the leadership of President William Ruto, is a commitment that Kenya takes seriously and pledges to meet the expectations of the supportive international community.