How does UNESCO do it?

By Conde Nast Traveller
about 6 days ago
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The famed city of Jaipur has made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Babylon in Iraq also made it. And it makes one wonder – who makes this list and how does UNESCO arrive at these choices?

As of today, there are 1,092 properties on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. These properties are known for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance, and are legally protected by international treaties.

Each year, countries and cultural organisations send in their nominations for places they’d like to include on the list. Each nomination must be backed by a detailed argument. To qualify, the nominee must meet at least one of the 10 criteria developed by the World Heritage Committee:

  1. to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius
  2. to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
  3. to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
  4. to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
  6. to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

The committee comprising of representatives of 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention meet each year and debates who makes the final cut.

This year the convention started on 30th June and ends today in Baku, Azerbaijan. On Saturday, India’s sole entry this year, Jaipur was awarded the UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Here’s the full list of places vying for the UNESCO World Heritage Site status this year:

  • Hyrcanian Forests (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (Thailand)
  • French Austral Lands and Seas (France)
  • Vatnajökull National Park – dynamic nature of fire and ice (Iceland)
  • Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region [extension of “Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region”, North Macedonia] (Albania)
  • Paraty – Culture and Biodiversity (Brazil)
  • Ancient ferrous metallurgy site (Burkina Faso)
  • Dilmun Burial Mounds (Bahrain)
  • Babylon (Iraq)
  • Budj Bim Cultural Landscape (Australia)
  • Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City (China)
  • Jaipur City, Rajasthan (India)
  • Ombilin Coal Mining Heritage of Sawahlunto (Indonesia)
  • Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japan (Japan)
  • Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuang –Plain of Jars (Lao People’s Democratic Republic)
  • Bagan (Myanmar)
  • Seowon, Korean Neo-Confucian Academies (Republic of Korea)
  • Großglockner High Alpine Road (Austria)
  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire – The Danube Limes (Austria / Germany / Hungary /Slovakia)
  • Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi (Canada)
  • Erzgebirge/Krušnoho?í Mining Region (Czechia / Germany)
  • Landscape for Breeding and Training of Ceremonial Carriage Horses at Kladruby nad Labem (Czechia)
  • Water Management System of Augsburg (Germany)
  • Krzemionki prehistoric striped flint mining region (Poland)
  • Royal Building of Mafra– Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden and Hunting Park (Tapada) (Portugal)
  • Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga (Portugal)
  • Monuments of Ancient Pskov (Russian Federation)
  • Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape (Spain)
  • Jodrell Bank Observatory (United Kingdom)
  • Historic Centre of Sheki with the Khan’s Palace (Azerbaijan)
  • Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano a Valdobbiadene (Italy)
  • The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (United States of America)
  • Sunken City of Port Royal – A Relict and Continuing Cultural Landscape (Jamaica)
  • Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panamá (Panama)
  • Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I) (China)

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