IUCN has developed a standardized methodology for the Conservation Outlook Assessments of natural World Heritage sites. This enables the assessments to be repeatable, accurate and transparent.

The assessments are based on the best-available information and new site visits are not involved. These assessments do not therefore replace existing site-based monitoring and evaluation systems of the World Heritage Convention.

Assessments are coordinated by the IUCN Secretariat working with an IUCN-WCPA team of site assessors who are familiar with the sites and supported by consultation. The Conservation Outlook Assessment process is structured around nine steps, each corresponding to a standardized assessment worksheet.

The methodology was elaborated in collaboration with a technical Advisory Group, drawing on a range of resources, including:

Pilot assessments were undertaken in 2011 for the then five natural World Heritage sites in the Arab State and the results were published in the Tabe'a: Nature and World Heritage in the Arab States Report.

Designed to evaluate only sites inscribed on the World Heritage List for their natural Outstanding Universal Value (criteria vii, viii, ix and x), the methodology could be adapted to apply more widely to protected areas and areas of conservation importance.


Consultation process

The consultation process is indispensable to the IUCN World Heritage Outlook to ensure that site assessments are as accurate as possible and focused on the most pressing issues.

A range of knowledge-holders are informed and invited to take part in the consultation process. Typically, they include:
  • IUCN commission members, in particular those of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Species Survival Commission (SSC)
  • The IUCN secretariat.
  • Stakeholders involved in the management of sites (including IUCN Member organizations, relevant Government authorities, site managers, NGOs, community groups, international agencies etc.)
  • IUCN commission members, in particular those of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and Species Survival Commission (SSC)
  • The IUCN secretariat

Each site assessment undergoes multiple internal and external reviews before finalization. Draft assessments are internally reviewed to verify that they meet the required standards. They are then examined by expert reviewers, selected for their knowledge of a site. All assessments are then reviewed in each IUCN region. The regional review groups consist of the IUCN WCPA Regional Vice-Chair, representatives of the IUCN regional office and regional specialists for World Heritage. A final draft is prepared for each site assessment, incorporating all feedback received, and site managers are invited to provide comments. All completed assessments are approved by the IUCN World Heritage Panel.

Conservation Outlook Assessments will be reviewed every three years. However, if significant new information becomes available on a particular site, its assessment can be revised at any time.

If you have any information on a natural World Heritage site that you would like to share for the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, please contact us. You can submit your feedback by filling the online feedback form or via email at