World Heritage Marine Programme


The mission of the World Heritage Marine Programme is to establish effective conservation of existing and potential marine areas of Outstanding Universal Value. To achieve this mission, our work focuses on three key goals:

  • Strengthen the credibility of the World Heritage List.
  • Strengthen conservation and capacity building for marine World Heritage sites
  • Strengthen communication and outreach about the World Heritage Convention as an instrument for marine conservation

List of World Heritage Marine Sites with coral reefs:

  1. Henderson Island (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
  2. Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)
  3. Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France)
  4. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize)
  5. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Philippines)
  6. Sian Ka'an (Mexico)
  7. Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles)
  8. Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
  9. Galápagos Islands (Ecuador)
  10. East Rennell (Solomon Islands)
  11. Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica)
  12. Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam)
  13. Everglades National Park (United States of America)
  14. Lord Howe Island Group (Australia)
  15. Ujung Kulon National Park (Indonesia)
  16. Ningaloo Coast (Australia)
  17. Papahānaumokuākea
  18. Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati)
  19. Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama)

The World Heritage sites are nominated by States Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention. All nominated natural properties are subject to a rigorous evaluation by IUCN whose recommendations are presented to the World Heritage Committe for final decision. The World Heritage Committee assembles annually (June/July) and inscribes new sites as well as makes decisions on the state of conservation of sites already on the World Heritage List.

Natural criteria:

(vii) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
(viii) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
(ix) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
(x) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.