Participatory development process of the single integrated management plan for the transnational Wadden Sea World Heritage site (SIMP)

Common Wadden Sea Secretariat
Published: 05 July 2022
Last edited: 05 July 2022
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The single integrated management plan (SIMP) is an umbrella plan for the transnational UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage site (DK, DE, NL) and complements the Wadden Sea Plan (2010) which contains the trilaterally agreed targets and policies. With the development of the SIMP, the Trilateral Governmental Cooperation on the protection of the Wadden Sea (TWSC) follows the official request made by the World Heritage Committee in 2014. The plan was developed in an iterative and participatory way in the TWSC including policy and site management levels transnationally. Its purpose is to further facilitate the continuous improvement of transboundary management coordination for the protection and maintenance of the Outstanding Universal Value of the Wadden Sea World Heritage site.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Open sea
Salt marsh
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Coastal and marine spatial management
Connectivity / transboundary conservation
Legal & policy frameworks
Outreach & communications
Protected and conserved areas governance
Protected and conserved areas management planning
World Heritage
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Sea level rise
Storm surges
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Invasive species
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals


Denmark | The Netherlands, Denmark


  1. Differences in political and administrative structures and generally accepted management practices between the three Wadden Sea countries (for example interpretation and implementation of EU law into national legislation, competencies of nature protection administrations, and non-governmental site managers) present challenges in complying with the expressed political intentions of managing the Wadden Sea World Heritage as ONE common entity.
  2. Effective management of the Wadden Sea World Heritage needs to address key activities affecting the property in an integrative way, including the most important economic activities, whilst safeguarding the site’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).


In the short term, the Wadden Sea and the TWSC are the main beneficiaries of the SIMP. In its implementation, hopefully the communities associated with the site, other sectors and stakeholders see an added value in being involved.

How do the building blocks interact?

An iterative and participatory method is the base and main principle to develop a successful SIMP. This not only allows to put together the most current and correct information, but it promotes the flow of information between policy and site management trilaterally. BB1 provides the necessary base to build a proper inclusive approach for transnational cooperation (BB2) as well as supports building a shared understanding of linking policy and management to World Heritage requirements (BB3). BB2 enables the right levels and stakeholders to be identified and involved in the process (BB1) and BB3 informs and guides the process (BB1) to adapt policy and management when necessary.


  • Involvement of nature conservation site managers in defining key topics to address and to develop potential trilateral management activities.
  • Greater understanding of how each country organises for nature conservation management for the World Heritage site and how they work together trilaterally.
  • This process gave the opportunity to the policy and site managers levels to contribute at different stages, increasing the ownership of the SIMP. Members of the trilateral Task Group World Heritage, comprising the official World Heritage site managers, are ambassadors for its implementation.
  • The final consultation phase invited stakeholders again to further improve the proposed activities.
  • Re-establishes and intensifies long-term dialogue about human uses, considering climate change, biodiversity loss, and ambitious energy transition goals.
  • Distribution of the SIMP to a.o. policy makers and at regional levels contributes to raising awareness and understanding for the management of the World Heritage site, and the role of other sectors in its implementation.
  • Direct link to the Outstanding Universal Value -OUV: Rapid expert assessment of impacts on the OUV and link to the periodic Wadden Sea World Heritage Quality Status Reports.
  • Direct link to the World Heritage Convention’s adaptive management cycle.
  • The SIMP contributes to the implementation of relevant EU regulations by formulating potential management activities.

Contributed by

luna_41794's picture

Soledad Luna Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS)

Other contributors

Barbara Engels
German Nature Conservation Agency (BfN)