Civic groups send a letter to UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN. OEJP reaches out to World Heritage Watch「やんばるの森を真の世界遺産へ」新たな一歩始まる
Being true to the maxim "make the Yambaru Forest a genuine World Heritage site," civil society members have taken a new step. (日本語は下のプレスリリースをご覧下さい）
First, on February 17, 2022, thirty civil society groups in Japan sent a letter of concern to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the IUCN World Heritage Programme. See the letter below.
The letter explains that, despite the inscription of the "Northern Part of Okinawa Island" (part of the Yambaru forest) as a World Natural Heritage in July 2021, the Japanese government is still reluctant to address critical issues the Yambaru forest faces. The U.S. military's Northern Training Area sitting next to the World Heritage site threatens the World Heritage sites and the forest as a whole. Numerous discarded U.S. military materials such as bullets and chemicals are still scattered in the "returned area" (formerly parts of the Northern Training Area) now incorporated in the World Heritage site. The letter was written based upon NGOs' meetings with the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Defense, and the Okinawa Prefectural Government.
Second, the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project is now working with the World Heritage Watch.
Established in 2014, this Berlin-based NGO has proven to be very effective and successful in connecting civil society members with the UNESCO, IUCN, ICOMOS, and state governments to resolve pressing issues many World Heritage sites face today. We are very thankful to the World Heritage Watch for its decision to help us address our case on the international stage. To start this collaborative relationship, the Okinawa Environmental Justice Project will join the UNESCO-NGO Forum organized by the World Heritage Watch from February 21 to 23. We will be giving a presentation on the Yambaru to UNESCO and IUCN.
We hope to build upon this momentum and press the Japanese and U.S. government more effectively to resolve these U.S. military-related issues the Yambaru forest faces.
Incidentally, the year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan and the establishment of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.