On the evening of 16th July, 2021, the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting kicked off in Fuzhou, China. This is the first time in UNESCO’s history that World Heritage topics will be reviewed and discussed online. The meeting was held from 16th July to 31st July, 2021 evaluated 45 agenda items for the World Heritage List, including the inscription of the “Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats” of the Republic of Korea. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the session.
A side event “World Natural Heritage & Biodiversity: Conservation and Sustainable Development of Coastal Migratory Bird Sanctuaries” was held on 17th July, hosted by National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China, and was organized by Yancheng Municipal People's Government, Eco Foundation Global, Fujian Provincial Administration of Forestry, and Fuzhou Municipal Administration of Forestry. Over 100 participants joined the side event. The side event aimed to:
- Showcase achievements on the conservation and sustainable development of coastal habitats for migratory waterbirds, highlighting the unique role of World Natural Heritage for biodiversity conservation.
- Voice out for conservation of coastal wetlands – to raise global attention, to seek for more international cooperation on ecological environment, promoting the concept of a community of life for man and nature.
With the focus on how World Natural Heritage promotes global biodiversity conservation, the event invited acknowledgeable speakers from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, EAAFP Secretariat, Yellow Sea Migratory Bird Habitats (Phase I) World Heritage Site, Shanghai Chongming Dongtan National Nature Reserve, and to share experiences on conservation of coastal habitats and migratory waterbirds, as well as to share vision on international cooperation and collaboration.
The event was kick-started with was moderation by Mr. Wang Zhigao, Director of Conservation Area Management Department, National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA). Opening remarks were given by Prof. Shahbaz Khan, Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Beijing and Mr. Zhang Xinsheng, President and Chairman of the IUCN, as well as Mr. Peng Youdong, Deputy Director of NFGA.
In the second session, the Summit Dialogue, the Advisor of EAAFP Science Unit, Prof. Lei Guangchun, was the moderator. Dr. Trevor Sandwith, Director of IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas delivered a presentation to introduce the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme and the Green List programme. Mr. Bernard Baerends, Executive Secretary of Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, shared the experiences of how the trilateral World heritage Site work and brought to conservation and contribute to the local communities. Mr. Doug Watkins, Chief Executive of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership Secretariat, spoke about the importance of joint effort for conserving wetlands in the EAA Flyway, and how the WH inscription foster the conservation, especially in the Yellow Sea region.
The last session was a Panel Discussion, with Mr. Jiang Wei, Deputy Mayer of Yancheng City, Prof. Zhang Zhengwang, Beijing Normal University, and Mr. Niu Dongliang, Director of Chongming Dongtan Nature Reserve Management Center. The tidal flats of the Yellow Sea are of global importance, especially for the congregation of many species of migratory birds that use the East Asian–Australasian Flyway. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase II) is now under intensive preparation to be included into the World Heritage List session of the World Heritage Committee.