Canada is one of 189 countries that have joined together under the World Heritage Convention “to identify, protect, conserve, and present” cultural and natural heritage of outstanding value and make sure it is there for future generations. By doing so, Canada has pledged to care for its own World Heritage sites, and avoid deliberate measures that could damage sites in other countries.

World Heritage logo, exploring the process

The World Heritage logo

World Heritage properties can be cultural, natural, mixed or ‘cultural landscapes’. They can be a series of properties linked together (e.g. the Rideau Canal) or spread over national borders (e.g. Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek). Types of Cultural heritage are monuments, groups of buildings, and sites. Decisions about inscribing properties onto the World Heritage List are made by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee. The World Heritage Centre in Paris provides advice on the preparation of nominations, raises awareness, organizes the annual meetings, international emergency assistance and coordinates reporting on the condition of the properties.

Stage 1 – Canada’s Tentative List

The first step in the process is for Canada to make an inventory of places that have high potential for being selected as World Heritage sites. ‘The Klondike’ (now called ‘Tr’ondëk–Klondike’) was added to Canada’s Tentative List in 2004 and remains on the List, which was renewed by the Government of Canada with new sites added in 2017.

Stage 2 – The Nomination

The second step is the preparation and submission of a written nomination according to a specified format. Parks Canada Agency officials have worked with the Tr’ondëk–Klondike team to prepare the nomination, and submitted it to the World Heritage Centre for review in January 2017. The nomination makes the argument that the nominated property has Outstanding Universal Value under World Heritage criteria (iv) and (vi), and identifies the places that illustrate these values. The nomination demonstrates the authenticity and integrity of these places, and that a long-term management regime is already in place to maintain them into the future.

Stage 3 – The Evaluation

In 2017 and 2018, Tr’ondëk–Klondike underwent evaluation by an independent advisory group, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). These international experts reviewed the written nomination, and visited the nominated property to evaluate its heritage values, management, and community support.

Stage 4 – World Heritage Committee Assessment

Following evaluation, a World Heritage nomination is reviewed by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee at its annual July meeting. The Committee decides whether the nominated property will be inscribed on the World Heritage List, referred back to the State Party (ie. Canada) for more information, deferred until further substantial work is conducted, or not inscribed on the World Heritage List.

In May 2018, Canada decided to withdraw the Tr’ondëk–Klondike nomination from consideration by the World Heritage Committee, in order to address questions raised during the evaluation and undertake further research on the site’s heritage values. The nomination may be revised and resubmitted to UNESCO in the future.