UNESCO Chair: Sustainable heritage and environmental management
UNESCO in the region

UNESCO Initiatives in Vestland County

Several ministries are involved in the UNESCO work in Norway. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has the overall responsibility for Norwegian policy at the UN, including UNESCO. The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for coordinating Norwegian UNESCO work, and is also responsible for the fields of education and science. The Ministry of Climate and the Environment is responsible for the World Heritage follow-up, while the Ministry of Culture has the responsibility for UNESCO's culture and communication program. While the ministries are responsible for Norway's official UNESCO policy, the Norwegian UNESCO Commission acts as a liaison between civil society and the Norwegian authorities. The Ministry of Education and Research has secretarial responsibility for the Norwegian UNESCO Commission. There are several UNESCO-initiatives in Vestland County. Here is an overview.

Map showing UNESCO initiatives in Norway and their locations.
Map showing locations for UNESCO initiatives in Norway.
UNESCO Norge (https://unesco.no/kart-over-unesco-i-norge/)

Main content

Bergen Creative City of Gastronomy

Part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2015. The main objective is that the cities co-operate and share best practices regarding how local food, creativity and gastronomy may be a driver for sustainable urban development. Other cities in the same network include Parma (Italy), Phuket (Thailand) and Chengdu (China).

Go to bergengastronomy.com for more information.

Bryggen in Bergen

Bryggen ('The pier') in Bergen is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and was built around 1070. From 1360 to 1754 it was the seat of the German office in the city and the central hub for the Hanseatic trade in Norway. Today, the area is a vibrant historic district, and one of the biggest prides of Bergen.

See stiftelsenbryggen.no for more information.

Geopark Sunnhordland 

Geopark Sunnhordland was established in 2018, and received the status of UNESCO Global Geopark in 2023. The archipelago, fjords, and mountains in Sunnhordland offer a very rich and diverse geology that has significantly influenced both the local area as well as the whole of Western Norway.

Get more information on www.geoparksunnhordland.no.


ICOMOS - International Council on Monuments and Sites - is a non-governmental international organisation working to preserve the world heritage and advise the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. ICOMOS Norway is the advisor for Norwegian authorities in matters regarding world heritage.

For more information, go to www.icomos.no.

The Leprosy Archives of Bergen (Lepraarkivene i Bergen)

The Leprosy Archives of Bergen is on the UNESCO Memory of the World register, and they document the breakthrough of the scientific understanding and description of leprosy on a world basis.

Visit the UNESCO webpage about The Leprosy Archives of Bergen for more information.

Nordhordland UNESCO Biosphere

The UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme is an internationally recognized status as a model area for sustainable development. The Nordhordland region north of Bergen was designated the Biosphere Reserve status in 2019 as Norway's first, and currently only, Biosphere Reserve.

Read more about biosphere reserves here: en.unesco.org/biosphere
Read more about Nordhordland UNESCO Biosphere Reserve here: www.nordhordlandbiosphere.no/

Nærøyfjorden World Heritage Park

The UNESCO World Heritage site of the West Norwegian Fjords (the Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord) has been inscribed onto UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 2005.

Get more information on www.vestnorskfjordlandskap.com.

Oselvarverkstaden (The Oselver workshop)

Oselvaren is a traditional wooden boat from Hordaland that has been used as a utility boat and for modern row- and sail racing since the 19th century. The foundation "Oselvarverkstaden" in Os in Vestland county is the only place where this boat type is built today. The knowledge of building and using this type of boat is listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

For more information, go to www.oselvarverkstaden.no/unesco.

UNESCO Chair for sustainable heritage and environmental management

The University of Bergen was awarded a UNESCO Chair entitled Sustainable Heritage and Environmental Management - Nature and Culture, in 2015 under the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme. Associate Professor Inger Måren holds the chair, which was renewd in 2023.

See www.uib.no/en/unesco-chair for more information.

Urnes stave church

The Urnes Stave Church is Norway’s oldest and most highly decorated stave church. It was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.

Read more about Urnes stave church on www.stavechurch.com/urnes-stave-church/?lang=en.

Sophus Tromholts photo archive

Sophus Tromholts photo archive is on the UNESCO Memory of the World register. Sophus Tromholt (1851-1896) was a teacher and northern lights researcher. He is known for the photographic work he did when he stayed in Kautokeino in Finmark, northern Norway, during the first international polar year in 1882-83. Best known are his portraits of the Sami population, which were taken with a contemporary unique respect and sensitivity for the individual. A version of Tromholt's portfolio as well as his entire negative collection is at the Picture Collection at the University of Bergen.

The photo archive and more information is available on marcus.uib.no/instance/collection/6334924f-1582-4043-97dc-34d641ebe921.

United Nations Association of Norway

This is a Norwegian organisation established in 1946, that mainly works with communicating the work of UN, their target group being youth and schools. They also work with creating interest and understanding of the UN and international debates, as well as creating positive attitudes towards solidarity and internationally committed cooperation. Today, the Association has about 30 employees spread between offices in Tromsø, Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Oslo.

More information about the United Nations Association Norway is available on their website www.fn.no.


Fjordkysten regional and geopark (ongoing application)

This is Norway's only combined regional park and geopark, located in the municiaplities Solund, Hyllestad, Fjaler og Askvoll in Western Norway. The park works as a colaborative platform across ideal and comercial actors, and its goal is to preserve and develop the region's natural and cultural resources on the community's terms.

Fjordkysten regional and geopark is currently working towards a UNESCO Global Geopark designation.

Read more about Fjordkysten on their website www.fjordkystparken.no.

Stockfish traditions (ongoing application)

Stockfish is a type of cod, which has been dried outside for preservation. This traditional way of preserving fish dates back to the middle ages, and stockfish became one of Norway's largest export product already at this time period. The knowledge of these methods has been passed on through generations, and is an important part of Norwegian cultural heritage.

Slow Food Bergen has initiated an application to have stockfish traditions listed as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. An international team consisting of NGOs, organisations and institutions from Norway, Italy and Germany is currently working a UNESCO ICH application for stockfish traditions.