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Jane Robertson Vernhes

After completing a doctoral in applied ecology at the University of Paris, Jane Robertson Vernhes joined UNESCO’s Division of Ecological Sciences in 1980, first as a consultant, then as a regular staff member. Working directly for Bernd von Droste, she was involved in the implementation of the natural component of the World Heritage Convention from 1980 to 1991. During this period, she verified nomination files, assisted in the organization of meetings of the World Heritage Committee and Bureau, and oversaw the administration of the World Heritage Fund. In parallel to these varied tasks, she also supported the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. After Bernd von Droste left for the World Heritage Centre in 1992, she remained with the Division of Ecological Sciences the coordinator for the network of biosphere reserves. As such, she supported the interaction of natural World Heritage sites and biosphere reserves within an integrated system for the protection of natural resources. She contributed to the publication by Chape S., Spalding M., Jenkins M.D., The World’s Protected Areas: status, values and prospects in the 21st Century (UNEP-WCMC, 2008).

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Jane Robertson Vernhes by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler in November 2009 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The capsules provide an enlightened perspective of the first decades of the Convention, returning to the original vision of elements such as the length of the World Heritage List, the concept of cultural landscapes and the List of World Heritage in Danger. Assessing the successes and failures of the Convention, she notably celebrates its great visibility but deplores its lack of financial resources.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Jane Robertson Vernhes by Christina Cameron and Mechtild Rössler, Paris, France, 24 November 2009.