If you pay some attention to UNESCO activities, you might have learnt of the world heritage site listings. This is a list of places that are regarded by UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to have some physical or cultural importance. It may be of outstanding beauty or an uncommon natural phenomenon. This might be a beach, building, forest, mountain, water-fall and so on It is maintained by the International World Heritage program that is governed by UNESCO World Heritage Committee made up of 21 UNESCO member states that the General Assembly selects.
Examples of places listed here include The Pyramids of Giza and East Africa’s Serengeti’s wild diversity. Well, what is the usefulness of such a list or even the sites it contains? Read below to find out.
1. It brings a sense of honor and global recognition. Despite their location, UNESCO declares the world heritage sites accessible to everyone from allover the world. Currently, around 850 or more sites have joined the list. A site on this list will be flooded with international tourists thus reflecting on the economy of that community and country. The diversity brought closer home and stories shared between locals and tourists are a good learning avenue.
2. It helps protect and preserve these sites: By informing the international community about the existence of and significance of these sites, UNESCO instills in people the need to protect these sites both for ourselves and future generations. This is even more practical for the world endangered sites. Alongside UNESCO, The World Heritage Convention maintains a list of sites that risk being lost to a variety of circumstances; may be poaching, natural disasters, excessive tourism, urbanization or even war.
A site on this list enjoys increased international vigilance and routine preservation efforts in addition to more funding from UNESCO. By 2015, the list had 48 endangered sites, most of which were in the war-prone Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. By then, two properties had been delisted because of a proven impossibility to preserve them.
The World Heritage Convention set 10 criteria, six natural and four cultural, of which a site must meet one to be considered for addition into the list. Cultural heritage should be those that posses exceptional art or some historical cultural importance.
Natural heritage sites are to posses unparalleled beauty or some unmatched natural phenomenon, rich in indigenous biodiversity, or bear significance in the Earth’s history. The list is thus a highly reputed one that all nations yearn to have their properties in, but the hard-to-meet selection criteria and financial implications of joining might be challenging. Probably that’s why the very beautiful beach you know is not in the list.