World Heritage is an official designation given to a site following careful consideration of a proposal submitted by the country and evaluations undertaken by experts.
Whether a property is awarded this designation is determined by the World Heritage Committee. The Committee, made up of 21 countries from all regions, meets once a year to deliberate if the proposed sites meet specific criteria and demonstrate what is called the “Outstanding Universal Value.” When a cultural or natural site has an OUV, it is “so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.”
The preparation of the nominations is at once lengthy and intensive. UNESCO accompanies this process and ensures the completion of all necessary steps, so the work of the Committee can be done smoothly. Once a site is inscribed on the World Heritage list, we work with countries and communities towards sustainable protection and promotion.
There is more to World Heritage sites than meets the eye. We must remember that these extraordinary places carry deep meanings for communities and beyond – urban centres layered with history, monuments embodying experiences of generations past, ancestral homes and hotspots for biodiversity. The protection of World Heritage, therefore, contributes to the remembrance of who we were and inspiration for who we want to become.
Sadly, the threats against natural and cultural sites are rising. According to our latest research, sixty per cent of World Heritage forests are threatened by climate change-related events, while glaciers in one-third of World Heritage sites are set to disappear by 2050.