Table of Contents
The author of this essay is anonymous. Through this essay, the readers gain knowledge on what exactly a World Heritage Site and what constitutes it and how a place derives the honour.
About UNESCO and World Heritage Site
The author starts the essay by talking about what makes a world heritage site. A l World Heritage Site is a site determined by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to have significant cultural or natural importance to humanity. The main purpose of such sites is to protect and preserve them.
The UNESCO world heritage committee decides which places to be considered as a heritage site. Since the very of different kinds of world heritage site can include forests, lakes, monuments, buildings and cities. The author also points the fact that a World Heritage Site can also be a combination of both cultural and natural areas.
The author lists the example of Mount Huangshan in China. It is a site already holds a cultural significance as it is of great historical value. Apart from that, the mountain around the site also carries deep significance.
History of World Heritage Sites
The author then moves on to discussing about the history of the world heritage sites. The author says the idea of protecting and preserving such historical sites began from the 20th century, it actually gained momentum from the 1950s.
Egypt started plans to build the Aswan High Dam to collect and control water from the Nile River. According to the plan, had the initial dam been constructed the entire city and the temples would have been flooded. So UNESCO took it upon itself to move the temples at a higher level in order to preserve scores of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
UNESCO launched an international campaign in 1959 that called for the dismantling and movement of the temples to higher ground. This very first project cost them an estimated value of $40 million-$80 million which came from different countries. On seeing the project’s success, UNESCO decides to list a number of various sites as world heritage sites. In 1965 a White House conference in the United States was called for a “World Heritage Trust.”
Finally, in 1968, the International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar goals and presented them at the United Nations conference on Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. Natural Heritage was then adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference on November 16, 1972.
The World Heritage Committee
The author of the essay that states the default heritage site committee is the main function in the body which decides what makes a place to heritage site. The Committee meets once a year and consists of representatives from 21 State Parties that are elected for six year terms by the World Heritage Center’s General Assembly. It is upto the state parties to nominate and select world heritage sites.
Becoming a World Heritage Site
The author than continues by saying that there are five steps for a place to become a world heritage site. The first of which is for a country or State Party to take an inventory of its significant cultural and natural sites. They make their way to the Tentative list and is important to get further nominated as the name of the place might be disqualified if the name isn’t there on the tentative list.
Next, countries are then able to select sites from their Tentative Lists to be included on a Nomination File. The author then states the next step which is a review of the Nomination File by two Advisory Bodies consisting of the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union, who then make recommendations to the World Heritage Committee.
And this committee meets once a year to go through all the nominees and the recommendations and decide which site to be added in the World Heritage Site. The final step in becoming a World Heritage Site is determining whether or not a nominated site meets at least one of ten selection criteria. If the recommendation meets the required criteria, it is inscribed on the World Heritage Site.
Types of World Heritage Sites
As of 2009, there are 890 World Heritage Sites that are located in 148 countries (map). The world heritage sites are spread all over the world like the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Historic Center of Vienna in Austria. 25 of the World Heritage Sites are considered mixed i.e. natural and cultural Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of these. India has 36 World Heritage Sites of different categories.
World Heritage Sites in Danger
In the last part of the essay, the author talks about how the world heritage sites are in grave danger. many World Heritage Sites are in danger of being destroyed or lost due to war, poaching, natural disasters like earthquakes, uncontrolled urbanization, heavy tourist traffic and environmental factors like air pollution and acid rain.
To preserve them, different types of plans and resources are being used for different areas. There’s also a condition that if a site loses its valor, the World Heritage Site Committee can remove that side from the list. They have also inscribed a list stating “World Heritage Sites in Danger.”
Through this essay, the author makes the readers aware of what constitutes a World Heritage Site and how they are in grave danger. He urges the readers to take care around them, if they happen to notice a World Heritage Site, in order to preserve them for generations to come.