Within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme, the World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) Initiative was launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service (CCIVS) to mobilize and involve young people and youth organizations in World Heritage preservation and promotion.
The World Heritage Volunteers campaigns provide enriching opportunities for young people, going beyond borders to some of the world's most unique places.
World Heritage Volunteers 2022
World Heritage Volunteers 2020-2021
World Heritage Volunteers 2019
World Heritage Volunteers 2018
World Heritage Volunteers 2017
World Heritage Volunteers 2016
World Heritage Volunteers 2015
World Heritage Volunteers 2014
World Heritage Volunteers 2013
World Heritage Volunteers 2012
World Heritage Volunteers 2011
World Heritage Volunteers 2010
World Heritage Volunteers 2009
World Heritage Volunteers 2008
This publication provides a retrospective of the first 10 years of the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative, to increase its visibility and sustainability and support the organizations committed to its values.
of fruitful experience
The project continues to receive a considerable amount of attention on social media, raising awareness of World Heritage issues and volunteer activity opportunities among youths. Due to outstanding growth of World Heritage Volunteers Initiatives, World Heritage Centre has collaborated with global and regional partners for the implementation of World Heritage Volunteers action camps.
over 7000 volunteers have participated
more than 500 action camps have been held
in about 60 countries around the world
with over 100 youth organizations and NGOs
To raise awareness among young people, volunteers, local communities, and concerned authorities of the need to protect and promote World Heritage.
To get young people involved in World Heritage preservation through concrete projects at sites, allowing them to learn new skills and express ideas.
Provide young people with opportunities to learn basic preservation and conservation techniques.
Foster cooperation between youth organizations, communities, site management and authorities.
Identify best practices and develop non-formal education tools to facilitate stakeholders’ participation in World Heritage education.
The World Heritage Volunteers action camps are organised by local youth organisations, NGO’s, heritage or education related institutions or other organisations.
The action camps generally have a minimum of 10 full days of activities, where young volunteers carry out concrete actions, comprising both hands-on preventive conservation activities and awareness sessions on issues related to World Heritage, as well as other activities carried out together with local communities. Each action camp accommodates ten to thirty national and international volunteer participants.
© Jeremie Jung-UNESCO-CCIVS
After 15 years, the initiative has reached a new phase of development, with over 70 projects per year engaging a growing diversity of stakeholders from grassroots youth and heritage organisations to foundations, site management authorities and regional and national governments. The coordination of the campaign has been ensured since 2008 by the World Heritage Centre in cooperation with CCIVS. Between 2014 and 2020, the European Heritage Volunteers (EHV) have been in charge of the regional coordination for Europe; Better World has hosted the regional coordination for Asia and the Pacific since 2015 and has taken over all global and regional tasks from CCIVS in January 2023.
Better World / International Workcamp Organization, is a Korea-based non-profit NGO created in 1999 whose main mission is to empower people and communities towards a shared vision of a peaceful and sustainable world, driven by engaged citizens. The main focus of Better World activities is on global education, community development and international volunteering, considered as complementary elements and tools to build a sustainable culture of peace.
(Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service)
The CCIVS is an International Non-Governmental Organisation engaged in the field of International Voluntary Service. Co-founder of the World Heritage Volunteers Initiative in 2008, CCIVS has ensured the global coordination of the campaign for the first 14 years, until 2022, largely contributing to its worldwide success. The organization, founded in 1948 under the aegis of UNESCO and currently enjoying the status of formal relations of association, will continue its engagement providing external support, advise and expertise when required and ensuring through its numerous members still involved in the campaign that the spirit of International Voluntary Service remains firmly embedded in the World Heritage Volunteers initiative.
Frequently Asked Question
World Heritage Volunteers
World Heritage Volunteers (WHC) is an initiative to raise awareness among young people of the importance of World Heritage conservation, and give them concrete skills by working on a project through an action camp at a World Heritage site. Each year some 50 action camps around the world are carried out which promote specific thematic such as Biodiversity, Sustainable Development, etc. For example, in 2013 there were 52 projects implemented in 52 World Heritage sites in 32 countries, involving 43 organizations and promoting Sustainable Development and the International Year of Water Cooperation.
World Heritage action camp projects are selected by UNESCO each year to be part of WHV, and each project is organized by local youth organizations, non-governmental organizations or heritage and education institutions.
Generally, participants are students between 18 and 30 years old, but the requirements can vary according to the country and the project. To learn more about an action camp and the application requirements, you must contact the local organization in charge of that project (UNESCO does not accept applications)..
UNESCO does not organize volunteer activities at World Heritage sites outside of the WHV programme. If you are interested in volunteering at a World Heritage site, you may wish to contact a volunteer organization (such as WWF, Greenpeace, etc.) in case they have a project that would interest you.
Or, you may wish to contact the National Commission for UNESCO in the country where you would like to volunteer, to see if they know of an organization that could help you.
Volunteers are expected to contribute their share of the expenses, such as the cost of their travel to the site, and insurance. Food and lodging are provided by the host organization. Many assignments are in remote locations, and volunteers are expected to respect local customs. English is the recommended language for communication, but the language(s) used will mostly depend on the organizers and the country where the camp will be held.
If your organization fulfills the selection criteria (see below), you should fill in the application form and send it to the relevant coordinating bodies. The report should be short and to the point, presenting a clear picture of the objectives and activities of the project.
The call for proposals usually starts in November or December, for the following year.
The selection process is usually completed in February, and the list of selected WHV projects is then announced.
The criteria for selection changes for each campaign, but in general the projects need to fulfill the following criteria:
- The project is organized in immediate connection to a site inscribed on the World Heritage List or a site on the country’s Tentative List.
- The project demonstrates best efforts to involve the community, site managers and local authorities in planning details of the activities.
- Activities include a systematic reflection on issues related to World Heritage as well as practical hands-on skills training for the volunteers.
- The project can be linked to the theme of the annual campaign.
- Organizers commit to implementing their projects as per approved proposals and to submit a full activity report, including images, videos and other results, demonstrating the concrete engagement of young volunteers in the field of World Heritage.
- The evaluation report of previous WHV projects carried out by the same organization has to be submitted in order for the new proposal to be considered.
Each organization is eligible to apply for a maximum of 4 projects to be carried out in different sites or carrying different themes and activities.
In general, organizations should consider permits or authorizations to conduct activities in and around the sites, safety issues, accessibility and facilities available, accommodation, transportation, budget, partners and stakeholders, among other things. For more information please refer to the World Heritage Volunteers Project Cycle Practices.
Coordinating partner(s) submit to UNESCO World Heritage Centre recommendations and comments on the projects for the campaign of the following year.
UNESCO does not provide financial support to organizations, hence the importance of partnerships in the implementation of the project.
The official confirmation letter will be sent to selected organization, and the profile of the action camp will be published online, including UNESCO WHC webpage. Organizations participating in the World Heritage Volunteers campaigns shall also receive a UNESCO certificate following the successful implementation of the projects.
Each year UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the coordinating partners of the campaign undertake several monitoring visits to evaluate project progress and results and submit the reports to UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
The promotion of the projects to a large audience through local and national media coverage will be facilitated by the use of promotional material during the projects and the authorization to carry the Patrimonito label which associates the action projects to WHV and the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme.
Patrimonito is the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Programme. The name means ‘small heritage’ in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. The Patrimonito character is based on the World Heritage emblem, and symbolizes the interdependence of culture and nature. The central square is a form created by humankind and the circle represents nature, the two being intimately linked. The emblem is round like the world, but at the same time, it is a symbol of protection.
Using the image of Patrimonito, or the UNESCO and World Heritage logo requires a strict validation process. The projects selected for the WHV campaigns are granted the authorization to use ‘Patrimonito’. This authorization does not include the use of the UNESCO logo nor the World Heritage Centre emblem. Prior written authorization from the World Heritage Centre is required to use the UNESCO and WHC logo and emblem in any publication, platform or format.
Each organization shall submit an evaluation report together with relevant documents and materials (images, photos, videos, media coverage, etc.).
If you have any further questions about the World Heritage Volunteers Campaigns, please contact the World Heritage Volunteers coordinators at Better World (email@example.com )