Many challenges related to identification and presentation of Indigenous heritage arise from differences in understanding key World Heritage concepts, such as, “outstanding”, “exceptional”, “universal” and “authenticity”. Considering this, the webinar discussion, Authenticity & Outstanding Universal Value will be guided by Indigenous worldviews to deepen the understanding of these challenges while identifying ways to better incorporate Indigenous perspectives and ontologies into World Heritage.
The concept of authenticity has historically been problematic as it creates a dichotomy of purity versus non-purity, which can impact Indigenous heritage and wellbeing in adverse ways. Similarly, Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is inherently comparative, judgemental, and requires an identification that categorizes values “above all others” or exceptional. This is problematic for many Indigenous worldviews. As World Heritage Consultant, Stefan Disko reminds us, “which values are recognized as part of a site’s OUV, and which ones are not, can have major ramifications for Indigenous peoples living within or near a World Heritage Site” (Background Research for Indigenous Heritage Working Group, 2019, ICOMOS Canada, 35).