Trilateral Partnership in support of the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage: A network of networks


The Wadden Sea World Heritage is a multifaceted dynamic natural system. It is also a complex transboundary site in terms of its protection and management, its governance, the number of stakeholders involved, different languages spoken and cultural backgrounds. The many organisations and people who have a stake in the Wadden Sea World Heritage bring together ideas, expertise, competence, initiatives, and resources to form a strong and united community because there is much to be gained by working together.

Therefore, the responsible ministers of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation (TWSC) instructed the Wadden Sea Board in 2018, to develop partnership schemes and a Partnership Hub together with partner organisations and in partner networks going beyond the governmental cooperation across the Wadden Sea Region (Leeuwarden Declaration, May 2018, Art. 1+2).

To bring these decisions to life, a range of strategic partner networks’ representatives from the Wadden Sea Forum, the Wadden Sea Team of green NGOs, the trilateral Network Group Sustainable Tourism, the trilateral science community,the regional Wadden Sea Partnership- and Ambassador Programmes, and the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation of the Wadden Sea states (TWSC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) form the strategic, multi-stakeholder “Trilateral Partnership in support of the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage” (in short: Trilateral WH Partnership).

The Trilateral Partnership in support of the Wadden Sea World Heritage aims to pool and strengthen existing skills and experiences of multiple stakeholders under one umbrella, to contribute to protection and preservation of the Wadden Sea, whilst fostering sustainable regional development within the entire Wadden Sea Region.

The Trilateral WH Partnership is based upon existing structures with a long history of achievements and contributions of stakeholders’ and partner networks. The partners within the partnership are committed to contribute to and support an efficient and effective protection and management of the transboundary Wadden Sea World Heritage, to safeguard its Outstanding Universal Value for future generations and to contribute to a more sustainable Wadden Sea region. The primary aim of the Partnership is to enhance ownership in civil society and to build an extended and stable, multi-level and cross-border community for the benefit of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. The Partnership initiative is open to further stakeholder networks and organisations, which are committed to the objectives and willing to collaborate within the framework of the MoU.

In order to provide the Trilateral WH Partnership with network management and a platform, the Trilateral Partnership Hub was established by the Operational Team Partnership Hub (OPteamPH) and further developed within the framework of the Interreg VB North Sea Programme Project PROWAD LINK, The hub currently consists of the OPteamPH, teaming up liaisons within the partner networks and organisations, to guide the development of the trilateral partnership and of the Trilateral Partnership Hub administration unit, which provides support for common projects and activities and secretariat functions to the partnership. The admin unit is associated to the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS). The work of the Partnership Hub is based on a first concept agreed to by the partners.



Trilateral Partnership in support of the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage: A network of Networks

The trilateral partnership is a strategic, multi-stakeholder, transboundary partnership, incorporating governmental and non-governmental sectors and networks committed to the protection of the Wadden Sea and sustainable regional development. The partners have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding to set joint goals and ambitions.

Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Hub: Network management and platform

The Partnership Hub supports the management and organisation of the trilateral partnership. It currently consists of the Operational Team Partnership Hub which guides the Trilateral Partnership, and the Trilateral Partnership Hub Administration Unit which carries out supporting and secretariat functions. The Partnership Hub Administration Unit is directly associated with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat.

Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Partnership Centre: Location

The Partnership Centre is a building, currently under construction, which will serve the Partnership Hub, the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, the Wadden Sea Forum and the International Wadden Sea World Heritage Foundation, as home base for activities throughout the whole Wadden Sea Region. It will provide a venue for meetings, workshops and conferences organised in the trilateral partnership. The building in Wilhelmshaven is scheduled to be completed within a few years.

Trilateral Wadden Sea World Heritage Foundation: Resources and international perception

The trilateral foundation is intended to support transboundary initiatives and projects to safeguard the Outstanding Universal Value and to raise international profile and recognition. The foundation is considered to become a future funding source for the trilateral partnership.