Connecting to IUCN: NGO Evaluation and Recommendations regarding the Nomination of NPOI for World Natural Heritage

Heart of Yambaru Forest or Northern Part of Okinawa Island
On October 5, 2019, the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project and the Informed Public Project sent the IUCN World Heritage Programme an information document regarding the Japanese Environment Ministry's nomination of the "Northern Part of Okinawa Island" (NPOI) (or commonly known as Yambaru forest in Okinawa) for UNESCO World Natural Heritage status. See our document below.

The NPOI is one of the four areas that the Ministry is hoping to have inscribed as World Natural Heritage sites in 2020. See the Ministry's Nomination document and Nomination Annexes.

The present information document is part of our continuing dialogue with the Programme. We have been successful in directing the attention of the Programme to the critical issues of the presence of the U.S. military's Northern Training Area (NTA) neighboring the NPOI.  In turn, the Japanese government has responded well to the Programme's recommendations regarding the NTA. See this "Hesitant heritage" article

In the information document, we provided our evaluation of the Ministry's new nomination documents submitted to IUCN and UNESCO in January 2019.  We discussed improvements from its 2017 nomination documents, highlighting the Ministry's efforts to work with the U.S. Military.  We also pointed out shortcomings and presented recommendations to rectify them.

Overall, we remain concerned that the Ministry's new nomination documents and its efforts are not on par with those of successful UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites.  The Ministry is still HESITANT to discuss the impacts of both the returned area of the NTA and existing NTA on the World Heritage nominated area of the Yambaru forest. We hope our recommendations could lead to more collaboration among the IUCN, the Environmental Ministry, and the U.S. government, and other relevant stakeholders towards successful inscription of the NPOI as World Heritage site.


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