The World Heritage Young Professionals Forum was a companion event to the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee which was held in Kraków on 2–12 July 2017. Poland hosted this prestigious international event for the first time in its history. The 2017 Forum was a joint project of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO and the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.
It gathered 32 young professionals working in the field of heritage preservation, including experts from 21 states that comprise the current World Heritage Committee (Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tanzania, Tunisia, Vietnam and the Republic of Zimbabwe) , as well as representatives of Belarus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Iraq, Lithuania, Germany, Mali, Russian Federation,Slovakia, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine.
The leading theme of the Forum – which was launched on 25th June, 2017 in Warsaw – was damaged and destroyed cities. The Syrian city of Aleppo which become the victim of a violent military conflict is, perhaps, the theme’s most powerful symbolic representation. However, the issue of cities destroyed by natural disasters (e.g. Kathmandu or Christchurch) and by various changes related to transformation and commercialisation of public space were also addressed during the Forum. The event, which gathered young experts from all over the world, offered a unique opportunity to share and promote the Polish reflection on and contribution to heritage preservation.
Over the last few years the Young Professionals Forum have become the obligatory companion events to the annual sessions of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The participants of the 2017 edition, all between 22 and 32 years of age, represented different fields related to the protection and preservation of cultural heritage. The participants have been selected via call for applications. The Forum provided them with an opportunity to broaden their knowledge with regard to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the World Heritage Committee’s methods of operation, opportunities and challenges as far as preservation, conservation and renovation of selected sites of outstanding universal value on the UNESCO World Heritage List.