UNESCO chief highlights challenges facing world heritage sites

UNESCO chief highlights challenges facing world heritage sites


SEVILLE, Spain -- A senior official with UNESCO (Unite Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) highlighted here on Monday challenges facing world heritage sites and their protection.

"Culture is an integral part of a country's sustainable development," said Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO, at a press conference marking the opening of the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee on Monday afternoon. That is why the organization has been pursuing a "global strategy" in promoting world heritage sites.

He was glad to note that sites inscribed in the World Heritage List have increased from 582 10 years ago to the current 877, whereas countries with heritage sites have grown from 114 a decade ago to 148 at the moment.

The global strategy, according to Matsuura, is intended to get more countries involved in the multi-lateral instrument, particularly the 41 state members which do not have any sites inscribed.

As UNESCO is moving closer to its 40th anniversary in 2012, it is also innovating itself through diversifying the types of sites so as to advance with the times.

To date, he said, aside from the original cultural and natural sites, UNESCO has come up with cultural landscapes, prehistoric sites, modern heritage and industrial sites.

"Over the past 10 years we have developed three more conventions covering underwater and intangible heritage as well as cultural expression," he said at the opening ceremony held later in the afternoon.

However, the director-general also acknowledged threats to existing sites as a result of urbanization, globalization and mass tourism. Climate change and global warming poses great threats to the protection of natural sites, he added.

A key element to see sites on the World Heritage List properly protected is "dialogue with the concerned parties to explore all options for correcting threats," he stressed.

The nine-day committee meeting will review 177 site protection reports and reveal new sites to the list.

Source: Xinhua

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