Bernd von Droste

Bernd von Droste studied forestry at the University of Göttingen and then at the University of Munich, Germany, where he completed his Ph.D. in Forest Ecology in 1969. He joined UNESCO in 1973 as Director of the Division Ecological Sciences and Secretary of the Intergovernmental Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) from 1983 to 1991. In 1976 he volunteered to provide the Secretariat for the natural component of the World Heritage Convention. In 1992, he became the first Director of the World Heritage Centre.

After his retirement in 1999, he served as an adviser to UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Culture and as an independent expert at the European Commission. In 2002, he also received the title of honorary professor at the Viadrina European University in Frankfurt-on-Oder, where he still teaches. Bernd von Droste, a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas for over twenty years, has advised many countries and international organizations on various aspects of the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. Among his publications are "A Gift from the Past to the Future: Natural and Cultural World Heritage", published in Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO: 1945-2005 (UNESCO, 2006) and Cultural Landscapes of Universal Value. Components of a Global Strategy (Fischer Verlag, 1995).

The following audio excerpts are from two interviews conducted with Bernd von Droste by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler in April 2007 and February 2008 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. He describes his involvement and role in the UNESCO Secretariat and his vision for the World Heritage Centre. He also highlights the inevitable political issues linked to the Convention, which he illustrates with numerous concrete examples. Finally, he critically observes the challenges of an ever-expanding World Heritage List and comments on the performance of the advisory bodies.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Bernd von Droste by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler, Paris, France, 5 April 2007 and 1 February 2008.