Dr. Michael Worbs 1950 – 2023

With sadness and grief we have learned that our friend and early supporter, Dr. Michael Worbs, passed away on December 16 after a serious, incurable illness.

Michael Worbs had been associated with us ever since he, as Chairman of the UNESCO Executive Board, remarkably emphasized the role of civil society in the preservation of World Heritage in his speech at the opening of the 2016 session of the World Heritage Committee in Istanbul:

“I would like to recognise the presence, and the importance of the work that Civil Society Organizations do for world heritage. Their expertise and dedication to the protection and preservation of world heritage helped to lay the foundations for the 1972 Convention. Today their work remains pertinent. Without their expertise, their eyes and their presence, protection of certain sites would not be possible. In some cases, it is thanks to their vigilance that the alarm bells are sounded, to help raise awareness of those sites that are in peril.”

I immediately thanked him for these words and we have been connected ever since. They are printed on the back of the 2016 WHW conference proceedings. When he retired shortly afterwards and settled in Berlin with his Brazilian wife, we organized a very successful event for him together with the NGO, “House for the United Nations”, about the last session of the UNESCO Executive Board which he had chaired and at which Audrey Azoulay had been elected Secretary-General of UNESCO. Since then, Michael Worbs and his wife have been regular guests at our New Year and summer parties – when they were not in Brazil – and were among our few regular and generous donors. He was always at our side with his advice and knowledge until illness put an end to his work about a year ago. In Dr. Michael Worbs, World Heritage Watch has lost an early supporter and friend whose encouragement at a crucial time gave us the certainty that we were on the right track with World Heritage Watch. He was proof that an easy-going, good-hearted man can be an excellent diplomat. We will not forget him.
Stephan Doempke, Chair
on behalf of World Heritage Watch