This year’s National Steering Committee on World Heritage focused exclusively on the nomination of Hin Nam No National Protected Area as a transboundary World Heritage site together with Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam. By making Hin Nam No the focus of this meeting, Laos demonstrated that the nomination of Hin Nam No is a national project of pride for the entire country of Laos.
Being home and custodian of a new World Heritage site that includes Hin Nam No and Phong Nha-Ke Bang would mean that Laos is becoming part of an exclusive global community of countries that protects nature’s heritage and values for all mankind. Furthermore, Laos would be the first country of South-East Asia that has successfully created a transboundary World Heritage site together with its neighbouring country.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, through the Department of Forestry, made clear that as a national project of pride, Hin Nam No must become a national park and that a national park needs to be appropriately staffed, trained and equipped with the means to do an excellent job, and an excellent job and effort is required by the ministry, together with all stakeholders to be successful in nominating Hin Nam No and managing and protecting it for the future. The need to be appropriately staffed, trained and equipped is also a pre-condition by UNESCO, the UN organization approving World Heritage, to approve the nomination of Hin Nan No. Therefore, the upgrade of Hin Nam No to a National Park is a pre-condition for a successful World Heritage nomination.
The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and the Department of Heritage demonstrated that preparations for the submission of the World Heritage application to the World Heritage convention are well on the way and have the support of all stakeholders and the entire country of Laos.
For the first time in Laos’ history delegates from Vietnam have been invited to attend the Lao National Steering Committee Meeting on World Heritage, as the future transboundary World Heritage site Hin Nam No National Protected Area and Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park of Vietnam will be an important heritage of the long friendship between the two countries.
In line with Laos becoming a pioneer in collaborative management of protected areas, the provincial and district government has demonstrated, for the first time in Laos, that rallying local people and local organizations and government agencies behind an effort to jointly effectively manage and protect Laos’ future natural heritage, Hin Nam No, is possible and can lead to impressive results.
Photo: Ryan Deboodt 2017