The ‘Huangshan Dialogue on Space Technologies for World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves and Potential New Category of Geoparks’ took place in Huangshan City, Anhui, China, from 26 to 30 May 2014, and was organized by the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST), the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), the World Heritage Centre (WHC) and the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of UNESCO.
The participants included 170 experts and practitioners in space technologies, world heritage, biosphere reserves and Geopark policy coordination and management, as well as administrators of city and land resource agencies from twenty-three countries of the six continents of the world. The event aimed to create a forum for experts and practitioners to share experiences and lessons in the conservation and management of UNESCO sites and Geoparks, and to improve knowledge of practical achievements of the use of space technologies for the benefit of UNESCO designated places.
The outcome of the meeting was the ‘Huangshan Declaration on UNESCO Sites, Sustainable Development and the Role of Space Technologies’. The Declaration recognizes, among other issues, the potential for world heritage sites, biosphere reserves and Geoparks to serve as learning sites for context-specific sustainable development strategies and actions that conserve natural and cultural heritage, enhance the socio-economic well-being of local communities, and promote international cooperation for transferring technologies and sharing experiences and lessons learnt. It also underscores the importance of building strong relationships between the site managers of UNESCO designated and assisted places, and space technology administrators, researchers and practitioners, in order to address concrete conservation and sustainable development problems and facilitate the search for solutions.