A collaboration between Earthwatch, Shell and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is helping to develop the skills and experience of employees from natural World Heritage Sites in Southeast Asia.
The partnership, which began in 2009 and will run until 2013, focuses on Shell employees passing on their business planning skills to the organisations responsible for managing the natural World Heritage Sites. Whilst on the training the team will also get involved with researching rainforest biodiversity in the Danum Valley in Borneo.
The Business Skills for World Heritage Programme kicked off in October 2009 with an 11-day training course in Borneo. Three employees from natural World Heritage Sites in Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in the Philippines and Kinabalu Park, Malaysia, attended the course. Each World Heritage Site was partnered by a Shell employee.
Simon Reid, Partnership Manager at Earthwatch says: "What we are doing here is bringing together people and organisations with diverse sets of skills and experiences to share their knowledge and develop best practice. This programme will help to ensure that some of these most beautiful and threatened places on Earth face a safer future."
One participant from Ujung Kulon National Park (UKNP) in Indonesia, Uus Susanto, said that his Shell mentor had really helped him to understand the business planning process. His colleague, Monica Rahmaningsih, said: "If our action plan works, then UKNP will be the first national park in Indonesia with a business plan."
Their sentiments were shared by participants from the other sites. James Mendosa, Park Director for Puerto Princesa Subterreanean River in the Philippines, said: "A business plan is important because it will allow our organisation to manage financial matters more efficiently." Dr Maklarin Lakim, a senior manager from Sabah Parks in Malaysia, commented that "continuity of this programme is vital for World Heritage sites worldwide".
"Conducting training sessions in the jungle has been a challenging, yet strangely enough life enriching experience," said Szu Li Lim, a Shell mentor from Malaysia. "Going through this with my World Heritage site team has helped develop our relationship to a level which a traditional method of training may not have achieved."
The relationship between the park staff and their mentor from Shell will continue for one year, to ensure that their newly acquired skills are successfully transferred to the management of their World Heritage site.
Mylene Santos, a Shell mentor from the Philippines, concluded, "The programme proves that more things may be done through collaboration. I look forward to seeing the World Heritage sites reap the benefits of the training in the years to come."
This five-year programme, funded by Shell and implemented by Earthwatch, is based on the successful Business Planning for Natural World Heritage Site Managers pilot project previously carried out between Shell Foundation and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.