In recent years, the framework for training and research in the field of World Heritage has changed significantly. Among the factors that have contributed to these rapid changes, is the emerging of many new institutions now offering capacity building within the World Heritage context.  In this regard, a major development was the establishment, in various regions of the world, of capacity building institutions that have been granted the status of "category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO", dealing specifically with World Heritage.
These organizations are not legally part of the UNESCO Organization, but are associated with it through formal arrangements approved by the General Conference and are committed to engage in support of UNESCO's strategic programme objectives (in this case support for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention).
They are funded directly by Member States where they are located, but their scope goes beyond the boundaries of their country. Some are regional in scope while others cover more than one region or are organized around a thematic issue. Many are involved in capacity building and research, while some are set up as foundations or funds to support activities carried out by other organizations.
How do Category 2 Centres related to World Heritage coordinate with the World Heritage Centre and among them?
The Category 2 Centres related to World Heritage work under a very comprehensive strategic framework and in a coordinated manner.
Their activities are expected to contribute to the World Heritage Strategy for Capacity Building as well as to the policies and programmes agreed by the governing bodies of the Convention that is the General Assembly of the States Parties and the World Heritage Committee.
They are in constant touch with the World Heritage Centre and take part in numerous initiatives and programmes related to World Heritage, notably in the process of the Periodic Reporting.
World Heritage Category 2 Centres also meet regularly among themselves to share their experiences and harmonize their activities. Two coordination meetings have taken place so far, in December 2010 (Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain) and in January 2012 (Milan, Italy). 
The Nordic World Heritage Foundation (NWHF) was established as a Category 2 Centre under the auspices of UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention (1972) in 2003.
NWHF’s mission is to promote the implementation of the World Heritage Convention (1972) and Global Strategy (1994) within the context of sustainable development, the UN Millennium Development Goals (UNMDGs) and the UN framework on climate change. NWHF’s mandate is to support the Secretariat of UNESCO and act as a focal point for the Nordic countries by facilitating technical expertise, disseminating information and contributing to Innovative projects in support of the World Heritage Convention.
NWHF’s Strategy 2010 - 2014 outlines the three Strategic Objectives of the Foundation: SO1: Promote Sustainable Development through Tourism; SO2: Strengthen the Periodic Reporting tool; and SO3: Support the implementation of the UNESCO Integrated Comprehensive Strategy for Category 2 Institutes and Centers.
NWHF has a Nordic-Baltic as well as international mandate through the commitment to support UNESCO’s strategic priorities in relation to promote North-South, South-South and triangular collaboration. The Foundation specifically serves the States Parties and Committee Members within the Nordic-Baltic Region, and seeks to benefit the broader World Heritage Community.
International focus is on Africa, Asia/Pacific and the Arctic.
Website: www.nwhf.no
The African World Heritage Fund was created in 2006 and endorsed by the African Union’s Heads of States meeting the same year. It was granted the status of UNESCO Category II Centre in 2009 and the agreement between UNESCO and South Africa signed on 27 January 2010.
The AWHF’s mission is to strengthen implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention in African State Parties, by facilitating application of the decisions of the World Heritage Committee in Africa. To that end, the AWHF shall assist African State Parties to Prepare and update national inventories, tentative lists and nomination dossiers, Compile integrated management plans for the proper management and conservation of World Heritage properties located in the territory of the relevant African State Party and to Comply with their obligations under the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
Website: www.awhf.net
The World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region (WHITRAP) was established in 2007 and is located in China.
It provides services to States Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention in the Asia-Pacific region.
WHITRAP’s mandate is to strengthen the implementation of the World Heritage Convention through capacity building, training, Research, communication and dissemination of information, and the establishment of a regional network.
Website: www.whitr-ap.org

The Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) was established by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 35th session in 2009. The main objective of ARC-WH is to assist States Parties in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Arab States region along three major axes: information, assistance, and financial and logistic support.
ARC-WH is identified as a key actor by the Arab States to disseminate information, facilitate capacity-building activities and provide financial assistance.
website: www.arcwh.org
The creation of the Regional Institute in Zacatecas was approved in the year 2009 in the 35th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO held in Paris.
The Regional Institute in Zacatecas assists States Parties in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
A year later, 10/34.COM/9C Decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Brasilia (2010), established as a major aim of helping the countries of the Region in the correct implementation of the Convention, paying more attention to the main types of world heritage in the area: archaeological sites, historic cities, real Amerindians, natural sites, landscapes and cultural routes.
On August 19, 2011, took place the First Session and Installation Centre Board, thus marking the tone for the formal start of operations of the Institute of Zacatecas Category 2. It also signed two cooperation agreements, one with the Autonomous University of Zacatecas and another with the Centre for Sacred Art Conservation Zacatecas.
The Regional Institute in Zacatecas’s Mandate is to Contribute to reinforce capacity building for the implementation of the Convention in the Region; Contribute to reinforce International cooperation, especially among the UNESCO States Parties in the Region; Contribute to sustainable development through the promotion of good practices in the conservation and management of cultural and natural heritage; Encourage research on cultural and natural heritage, especially for properties inscribed on the World Heritage List; Contribute to the creation and dissemination of information through the creation of a documentation Centre concerning the properties in the Region inscribed on the World Heritage List; and to Share specialized technical knowledge with UNESCO, especially with the World Heritage Centre, and cooperate with the Secretariats of other cultural and environmental conventions in the field of world heritage.
The Regional Heritage Management Training Centre “Lucio Costa” (CLC-CC2), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was established during the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee, in July 2010. The Region covered by the Center comprehends South , Latin America and Portuguese Speaking Countries in Africa and Asia.
The main focus of the Centre is to contribute to capacity building in Heritage managing in the Region, considering World Heritage as a platform for cooperation for exchange of experiences and the dissemination of best practices. Training includes different modalities of formation, research and diffusion of knowledge and exchange of experiences, considering the multiplicity and diversity of the Region, the constant renewal of approaches in preservation and social development
The International Centre for Rock Art and the World Heritage Convention are based on two Strategic objectives to carry out its mission of fostering the preservation, management, Research and knowledge of Rock Art and World Heritage management.
The main focus of the Centre is to Generate and disseminate scientific knowledge about rock art and Developing specific tools for properties conservation and management, with A special focus on the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and The Tentative List, in addition to properties protected by national laws.
As well as developing strategies and operating tools for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention for the management and preservation of Properties.
The achievement of these goals is based on the principles of international cooperation, Research and capacity building, institutional cooperation and communication about world heritage. 
The global objective of the International Research Centre on the Economics of Culture and World Heritage Studies in Turin is to assist UNESCO in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and its “culture and development” agenda. It places special emphasis on the management of World Heritage properties and the field of the economics of culture and urban economic development.
The Centre acts as a shared platform for training and research activities, exchange and share of experiences and practices, among the various academic and educational actors working in the field of the economics of culture and the management of UNESCO World Heritage properties.
In particular by fostering advanced scientific research on contemporary political and economic thought with special focus on cultural, institutional and creative economics; encouraging the understanding, articulating and disseminating information about the important challenges and opportunities brought forward by contemporary urban development and the above-mentioned topics; organizing international conferences, lectures and symposia to foster international debate and to disseminate state-of-the-art research and practices on the above-mentioned topics; teaching higher education training courses; supporting the development of didactic materials, curriculum design and teacher training; promoting editorial activities; And providing related services (research, studies, consultancy and technical advice) to public and private institutions.
There is also a ninth Category 2 Centre which, is affiliated with the Sector of Natural Sciences of UNESCO but also relates to World Heritage. The Centre is known as the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage and is hosted by the Centre of Earth Observation and Digital Earth (CEODE) in China. More information can be found on the UNESCO Natural Sciences webpage and below.
The International Center on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST), a category 2 Center under the auspices of UNESCO, was proposed to UNESCO by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in May 2007. The proposal was approved by the 35th General Conference of UNESCO in October 2009, and ratified by the State Council of China in April 2011. On 24 July, 2011, the launching ceremony of HIST was held in Beijing. This is the first UNESCO center applying space technologies to the monitoring and conservation of natural and cultural world heritage sites. The center is hosted by and built on the premises of the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth (CEODE) of CAS.
HIST is affiliated to the Sector of Natural Sciences of UNESCO.
HIST’s mission is to assist UNESCO’s programmes and Member States that desire to receive such assistance on the use of applied space technologies for UNESCO’s activities related to natural and cultural heritage, biosphere reserves, sustainable development, education, climate change and natural disasters. HIST contributes to the execution of UNESCO’s programmes by strengthening the capacity of UNESCO Member States. It will also contribute to facilitating and increasing technical cooperation among developing countries.
The main research interests include Building databases of Remote Sensing Images and Environments on Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites; dynamic monitoring on space technologies for typical heritage sites; Study on the Influence of global change and natural disasters on heritage sites; And Situational simulation and reconstruction of large-scale heritage sites.
Website: http://www.unesco-hist.org/zh-cn/