20 representatives from the Wadden Sea Board, States Parties, science and NGOs gathered at the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat in Wilhelmshaven on 18 February 2015 to discuss the feasibility of and options for the establishment of a Wadden Sea World Heritage Competence Centre. The workshop was prepared and facilitated by Dr. Andy Brown, an international advisor.
Case studies from other part of the world were presented which underlined the potential of a centre or network to create synergies and facilitate cooperation between different interests. It also became evident that there is no blueprint for a centre or network that could be wholly transferred to the Wadden Sea situation and the needs of the stakeholders.
The Cooperation was pioneering 25 years ago with the development of ecological targets, the monitoring programme and the Wadden Sea Plan, and it is still pioneering with the exploration of a new World Heritage competence centre or network approach to meet our future needs.
The participants also examined what new competencies and capacities will be required to deliver the objectives of the World Heritage strategy and to realize the benefits of the World Heritage site. Broadening the partnership approach of the Cooperation to involve local and regional interests, achieving tangible social and economic benefits, as well as maintaining and protecting the outstanding features and values of the Wadden Sea, were all seen to be essential. In addition, creating a science research agenda and strengthening communication, education, brand management and marketing of World Heritage, were all part of the package of actions needed to ensure the Wadden Sea was healthy and the region vibrant and prosperous.
The workshop further discussed governance options to link together any new centre or network with the proposed Foundation and the existing bodies of the Cooperation (Wadden Sea Board and Common Wadden Sea Secretariat).
All participants regarded the workshop as a success because it provided an opportunity to openly discuss the functions, aims and governance of a future competence centre and to share experience from all Wadden Sea regions and from experts with various backgrounds. The outcome of the workshop will be reflected in a project report analysing various options for a centre or network including its governance for discussion by the Wadden Sea Board.