From masterpieces of creative genius to beautiful natural landscapes, these sites reveal the most compelling chapters of Earth’s history.
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.
The United States initiated the idea of cultural conservation with nature conservation. The White House conference in 1965 called for a “World Heritage Trust” to preserve “the world’s superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry”. The International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, and they were presented in 1972 to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Under the World Heritage Committee, signatory countries are required to produce and submit periodic data reporting providing the World Heritage Committee with an overview of each participating nation’s implementation of the World Heritage Convention and a “snapshot” of current conditions at World Heritage properties.
A single text was agreed on by all parties, and the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.
To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance (such as an ancient ruin or historical structure, building, city, complex, desert, forest, island, lake, monument, mountain, or wilderness area). It may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet
UNESCO’s World Heritage mission is to Encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
Encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
Encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
Help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
Provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
Support States Parties’ public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
Encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
Encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world’s cultural and natural heritage.