Local to Global – building a resilient UNESCO network in the UK


The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) is developing a resilient network for UNESCO Designated Sites in the UK through our ‘Local to Global’ project, made possible with The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.


UNESCO Designated Sites1 are a bridge from local to global action. Across the UK’s coasts, countryside and cities is an extraordinary network of places and people working on important interconnected challenges related to environmental, economic, social and cultural diversity. Each Biosphere Reserve, Global Geopark and World Heritage site is a central hub where openness and collaboration drive the innovation and creativity required to achieve a better quality of life on our planet for futures to come. There is genuine motivation amongst the network to cross-pollinate knowledge, resources and ideas as widely as possible.

To match the ambition of these sites and for them to play their part in achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, UKNC is stepping up its game. Our reports on the National Value of UNESCO to the United Kingdom and UNESCO Sites for Sustainable Development have set a roadmap for how we want to help UK UNESCO Designated Sites fulfil their potential.

For the first time, Local to Global will convene UNESCO site coordinators and external consultants to generate a community of practice that promote skills, confidence and capacity-building in the following key areas:

  • Audience development, stakeholder mapping and inclusion
  • Fundraising and financial sustainability
  • Digital transformation and web development


By October 2024, you can expect UKNC to have:

  • Researched and identified exemplar Designated Sites, in the UK (and internationally), that demonstrate good practice, and to have shared this knowledge across the UNESCO portfolio through advanced peer learning.
  • Invited sites that are already achieving good results in audience development to establish an Audience Development Advisory Group that’ll offer improved oversight and reposition them as thought leaders.
  • Developed fundraising guidance specialising in external joint investment programmes and trialled this at selected sites.
  • Built a new digital platform, defined and produced in collaboration with sites, to improve connectivity and visibility.

Alongside this, three pilot sites will conduct intensive stakeholder mapping exercises, develop tailored audience development plans, test new ideas with their community and shape their own fundraising strategies. The project reports from these sites will catalyse demand and build a strong case for further investment into a fully realised UNESCO network in the UK – and globally.

For further information, please contact the UKNC Project Implementation Manager, Liam Smyth: [email protected]

1. The UK is home to 43 UNESCO land-based designated sites geographically covering 12% of the country and which contain the UK’s most prized cultural and natural heritage. This includes: World Heritage Sites, Global Geoparks and Biosphere Reserves

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