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Dr. Fanny Douvere is the coordinator of the Marine Programme at UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in Paris, France. Since October 2009, her mission is to ensure the 49 marine sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List are conserved and sustainably managed so future generations can continue to enjoy them. She recently wrote in Nature on why not investing in marine World Heritage is a lost opportunity for the oceans.

Prior to her work at the World Heritage Centre, she co-initiated and led the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initative at UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. In 2009 she co-published the UNESCO guide Marine Spatial Planning: A Step-by-Step Approach Toward Ecosystem-based Management. The guide has gained international recognition for setting a standard for the application of MSP and is available in six languages. She also served as an advisor to the United States Executive Office of the President (Council of Environmental Quality) on the development of the US Framework for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.

She co-authored more than 20 articles in internationally peer-reviewed journals on both marine World Heritage and MSP. Most recently, she authored for World Heritage Marine Sites Managing effectively the world’s most iconic Marine Protected Areas. A Best Practice Guide, in which she lays out a tangible approach for marine protected area management based on the fundamental idea that all things happen in time and space and the oceans should be managed accordingly.

Fanny obtained her PhD in 2010 from the Ghent University in Belgium and published the book Marine Spatial Planning: Concepts, current practice and linkages to other management approaches.

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Effective marine protection: More than just lines on a map

By 2020 the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Targets call for 10 percent of the world’s ocean to be protected. As the date nears, we are seeing real progress, like the creation of a vast new protected area around Chile’s Rapa Nui (Easter Island) that is as large as the landmass of mainland Chile. Chile has joined several other countries in starting to protect huge swaths of ocean.

World Heritage coral reefs likely to disappear by 2100 unless CO2 emissions reduce drastically

Last month, UNESCO released the first global scientific assessment of climate change impacts on World Heritage coral reefs. While international media has regularly reported on bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef, we knew that was just the tip of the iceberg. The El Nino and climate-fueled temperature spikes that were wiping out corals in Australia were also causing serious damage to reefs in Costa Rica, Mexico, France, the United States, the Philippines, and the Seychelles. And that is just the beginning of the story.

Race against the clock: Protecting Arctic Ocean gems as sea ice retreats

The natural barriers that have kept the smallest of the world’s oceans pristine are melting away, and the Arctic’s singular wonders are in jeopardy, as warming and economic development threaten to outpace conservation efforts. That is why UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre partnered with IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to shine a light on the Arctic Ocean’s most unique and significant ecosystems. We hope to inspire collective action to save the region’s treasures before they are lost forever, including through the use of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.

The Ocean Challenges Before Us Require All Hands on Deck

Last year was one of extremes for the world’s ocean. We celebrated the protection of vast swaths of ocean, along with some important advances in marine protected area management. But we also watched climate change and El Niño drain the life and color out of many of the planet’s most beautiful and beloved coral reefs.…

Ocean Elder Sven Lindblad on why Protecting UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage Is Essential

Last August, the Marine World Heritage Managers Conference was held on board Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endeavour, and we were honored to be joined by CEO and Ocean Elder Sven Lindblad. Over the course of the week, Lindblad met with the managers responsible for the day-to-day protection of our common ocean heritage of humanity, sharing the stories behind his commitment to ocean conservation.

Marine World Heritage Sites: Cornerstone of Sustainable Fisheries

Marine World Heritage sites should serve as time capsules show us what a healthy ocean looks like. But many have been subject to serious fishing pressure.

World Heritage in the High Seas: The Time Has Come

The report by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which explores the different ways the World Heritage Convention may one day apply to the wonders of the open ocean, which covers more than half the planet, was presented to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii a few hours ago. Sunken coral islands, floating rainforests, giant undersea…

Future-Proofing our Ocean Treasures: Climate Action at Marine World Heritage Sites

On Board the National Geographic Endeavour — Climate change is a global problem, but it wears many faces, causing flooding in some areas and drought in others, record high temperatures one year, and cold the next. In the ocean, we are already seeing coral bleaching, increased acidity, rising seas, and changes to the food web.…

Cause for Hope: Ocean Inspiration from the World Heritage community

On board the National Geographic Endeavour — As I reported Saturday, the managers of the world’s most beloved ocean places are meeting in the Galapagos this week to chart a path forward for Marine World Heritage. Each time we bring this global network together, I am filled with hope. National Geographic readers are well aware…

Experts Convene in Galápagos to Brainstorm Protection of Earth’s Marine Heritage

Today in the Galápagos, UNESCO is bringing together the guardians of our planet’s most unique and beloved ocean places. Our goal: to chart a sustainable future for the 49 marine World Heritage sites that the global community has deemed of irreplaceable value. World Heritage is more than just a list of special places.

World Heritage in the High Seas: A New Ray of Hope for Our Ocean Commons

Although the open ocean is remote, it is not safe from threats like climate change, deep seabed mining, navigation and plastic pollution. That is why the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for he Conservation of Nature partnered with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, The French Marine Protected Area Agency, Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre, with additional support from the Nekton Foundation, to explore the potential for applying the World Heritage Convention to iconic sites in the High Seas.