Wadden Sea participation at the Korean Getbol International Symposium

Representing the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (TWSC), Soledad Luna (Common Wadden Sea Secretariat) and Anja Szczesinski (WWF Germany) were invited to the “International Symposium of Getbol World Heritage 2024: Directions for the Future”. About 150 participants from ministries, provinces, NGOs, and local communities discussed ways to engage both domestic and international experts in discussions on effective conservation and management strategies for Korean tidal flats system called Getbol. The event was held in Incheon Metropolitan City, Republic of Korea from 17 to 19 April 2024 commemorating the 3rd anniversary of the Korean Getbol inscription on the World Heritage List. Luna and Szczesinski complemented their participation with a study visit to the Wadden Sea’s sister site and talks with the TWSC’s cooperation partner, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea. The two hold a Memorandum of Understanding, renewed in May 2023, on exchanging on World Heritage site management.

“The symposium was an excellent platform for exchange, bringing together different perspectives and fostering networking in the fields of World Heritage management, monitoring, and education for sustainable conservation”, says Luna. “The study visits before and after the symposium were invaluable opportunities for enriching insights and fostering meaningful connections and for supporting our international partners in advancing towards enhancing their property’s Outstanding Universal Value through the second nomination phase.” At the symposium, Luna delivered a speech on the achievements and challenges of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site and the Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Programme. Szczesinski presented the Wadden Sea initiatives on sustainable tourism and education, focusing on the International Wadden Sea School.

The adjacent study visit included meetings with officials and representatives of the World Heritage components and the new areas that will be proposed to UNESCO in a Phase 2 to achieve the integrity of the site. As input to the discussions and upon request, Luna presented the 2023 adapted SIMP Integrated Management Plan for ONE Wadden Sea World Heritage. The TWSC was further invited to provide advice on the content of a planned visitor centre in Shinan, which will raise awareness on World Heritage and serve as a basis for researchers in the area.

“Both in the Wadden Sea and the Korean Getbol, environmental education and sustainable tourism development are crucial for understanding and responsibly experiencing these World Heritage Sites” says Szczesinski. “The opportunity to share our strategic approaches to and achievements in the Wadden Sea as well as to exchange with international colleagues and learn from one another at the symposium and site visits is invaluable in enhancing our efforts to protect and preserve these unique natural treasures.”