Importance of UNESCO

The lesson “World Heritage” highlights the importance of UNESCO that is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The major contents of the lesson include “History of World Heritage Sites, The World Heritage Committee, Becoming a World Heritage Site, Types of World Heritage Site and World Heritage Sites in Danger”.

UNESCO determines a World Heritage Site so that these sites have significant cultural or natural importance to humanity. The International World Heritage Programme, which is administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee protects and maintains these sites.

World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites like forests, lakes, monuments, buildings, and cities are significant both culturally and naturally. For example, Mount Huangshan in China is a site with significance to human culture because it played a role in historical Chinese art and literature.

In 1954, Egypt started plans to build the Aswan High Dam for the collection of water from the Nile River. But the dam’s construction would have flooded the valley containing the Abu Simbel Temples and many ancient Egyptian artifacts.

In the year 1959, UNESCO launched an international campaign that called for the dismantling and movement of the temples to higher ground in Egypt. Because of the project’s success, UNESCO and the International Council on Monuments and Sites initiated a draft convention to create an international organization to protect cultural heritage.

In the year 1965, a White House Conference in the United States called for a “World Heritage Trust” to protect historic, cultural sites and the world’s significant natural and scenic sites. In the year 1968, the International Union for Conservation of Nature finally developed these goals and presented them at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden 1972.

World Heritage Committee

The World Heritage Committee meets once a year and consists of representatives from 21 State Parties. These state parties are responsible for identifying and nominating new sites within their territory to be considered for including on the World Heritage list.

The country or State Part takes a detailed list of its significant cultural and natural sites, which is called the Tentative List. From these tentative lists, the country is able to select sites to be included on a Nomination File. The final step in becoming a World Heritage site is to determine whether or not a nominated site meets the selected criteria.

There are eight hundred and ninety World Heritage Sites that are located in 148 countries. The World Heritage Committee has divided the world’s countries into five major geographic zones and these are Africa, Arab States, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

World Heritage Sites that are in danger, due to uncontrolled urbanization, acid rain, or heavy tourist traffic are inscribed on a separate list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. It allows the World Heritage Committee to assign resources from the World Heritage Fund to that site. However, if a site loses the characteristics that allowed it to be originally included on the World Heritage List, then the Committee can opt to remove the particular site from the list.