During our Mediterranean cruise we inadvertently ended up doing a tour of a number of World Heritage sites. And having written about those locations and the efforts taken by their respective country to maintain them and the cultural heritage they represent for generations to come, I thought I should talk a little more about what UNESCO’s World Heritage program is.
The scope of the program is to preserve cultural and natural heritage around the world deemed to be of great value to humanity, affirmed in the international treaty adopted by UNESCO on November 16, 1972 called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
The inception of the program occurred almost thirty years earlier while the Egyptian government was building the Aswan Dam which resulted in the deluge of the valley containing the ancient Abu Simbel temples. With the successful campaign to relocate the temples to a higher location, further projects were undertaken, leading UNESCO to take the initial steps that would eventually lead to the World Heritage convention.
In return to those states who agree to manage and report back to UNESCO about their efforts to protect their World Heritage sites, technical assistance and professional training, not to mention emergency assistance for sites in immediate danger, can be provided by the Organization. Since its passing 189 states have ratified the convention bringing the total number of sites on the list to 936 locations. Heading up the top of the list is Italy with a total of forty-seven.
We’ve only managed to hit eight so far, but with an endless store of travel plans for the future, I’m sure we’re going to get to a few more.