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New conservation organisation aims to protect endangered heritage sites with public support

Our World Heritage is calling on the general public to save world heritage sites




Venice is under threat from large ships in its lagoon   Credit: Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

A new independent conservation organisation, Our World Heritage (OWH), has committed to protecting endangered heritage sites through public involvement.

OWH is relying on the general public and cultural professionals to monitor and report on the status of Unesco’s World Heritage sites.

To encourage reporting, OWH will establish “an open, online, real-time crisis centre for the public, professionals, NGOs, academics and the media to flag and track critical heritage situations.”

The online monitoring tool will have public access and will enable users to track conservation progress at World Heritage sites.

Throughout 2021, the organisation will also hold a series of monthly thematic discussions, addressing critical issues in World Heritage conservation and management.

Topics to be covered include disasters, pandemics and tourism and their impact on conservation.

“We’re building a global network to include as much of civil society as possible,” said an OWH statement.

Without action, the legacy of the past will not be here for tomorrow’s generations,”


Machu Picchu is one of the sites that Our World Heritage is trying to protect - Credit: cgoboyle on Unsplash

Cause for concern

The organisation was formed due to concerns that safeguarding cultural heritage has become a ‘secondary concern’ for Unesco, which exists to encourage international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations.

Its 27 founding members all have links to Unesco and Icomos (The International Council on Museums and Sites), and include Francesco Bardarin, former director of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Jean-Louis Luxen, former secretary general of Icomos.

“This is a civil society organisation, not an alternative to Unesco, which is intergovernmental,” said Bandarin, speaking to The Art Newspaper.

“We would like to cooperate with Unesco and the states that truly support the ethical principles of the World Heritage Convention.”

Now nearing its fiftieth anniversary, the World Heritage Convention (WHC) is a document that sets out the responsibilities for identifying and protecting heritage sites.

The OWH believes that the WHC is very important, with the treaty responsible for promoting and protecting some of the world’s most unique cultural and natural sites for almost 50 years.

However, “safeguarding has become a secondary concern, as many sites have lost or are about to lose their value due to extractive industries (such as mining), the impact of tourism and for short-term financial development gains.”

According to OWH, cases of failure to protect great heritage sites are common, with notable cases include the large ships that travel through Venice, and the city of Vienna, where high-rise construction is spoiling the urban landscape. The Selous National Park in Tanzania is endangered by the construction of a major dam, while a new airport under construction in Machu Picchu will destroy the sacred landscape of the site.

“We look forward to learning more about the Our World Heritage initiative, since it raises issues of concern to the World Heritage Committee, many of which have long standing,” said Unesco.

“We welcome all initiatives, including from civil society that aim to strengthen the protection of cultural and natural heritage, address new and rising challenges, and foster constructive dialogue and advocacy with member states and heritage stakeholders at large.”


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Home Opinion In depth Video
New conservation organisation aims to protect endangered heritage sites with public support | Planet Attractions

news

New conservation organisation aims to protect endangered heritage sites with public support

Our World Heritage is calling on the general public to save world heritage sites




Venice is under threat from large ships in its lagoon   Credit: Henrique Ferreira on Unsplash

A new independent conservation organisation, Our World Heritage (OWH), has committed to protecting endangered heritage sites through public involvement.

OWH is relying on the general public and cultural professionals to monitor and report on the status of Unesco’s World Heritage sites.

To encourage reporting, OWH will establish “an open, online, real-time crisis centre for the public, professionals, NGOs, academics and the media to flag and track critical heritage situations.”

The online monitoring tool will have public access and will enable users to track conservation progress at World Heritage sites.

Throughout 2021, the organisation will also hold a series of monthly thematic discussions, addressing critical issues in World Heritage conservation and management.

Topics to be covered include disasters, pandemics and tourism and their impact on conservation.

“We’re building a global network to include as much of civil society as possible,” said an OWH statement.

Without action, the legacy of the past will not be here for tomorrow’s generations,”


Machu Picchu is one of the sites that Our World Heritage is trying to protect - Credit: cgoboyle on Unsplash

Cause for concern

The organisation was formed due to concerns that safeguarding cultural heritage has become a ‘secondary concern’ for Unesco, which exists to encourage international peace and universal respect for human rights by promoting collaboration among nations.

Its 27 founding members all have links to Unesco and Icomos (The International Council on Museums and Sites), and include Francesco Bardarin, former director of the Unesco World Heritage Centre, and Jean-Louis Luxen, former secretary general of Icomos.

“This is a civil society organisation, not an alternative to Unesco, which is intergovernmental,” said Bandarin, speaking to The Art Newspaper.

“We would like to cooperate with Unesco and the states that truly support the ethical principles of the World Heritage Convention.”

Now nearing its fiftieth anniversary, the World Heritage Convention (WHC) is a document that sets out the responsibilities for identifying and protecting heritage sites.

The OWH believes that the WHC is very important, with the treaty responsible for promoting and protecting some of the world’s most unique cultural and natural sites for almost 50 years.

However, “safeguarding has become a secondary concern, as many sites have lost or are about to lose their value due to extractive industries (such as mining), the impact of tourism and for short-term financial development gains.”

According to OWH, cases of failure to protect great heritage sites are common, with notable cases include the large ships that travel through Venice, and the city of Vienna, where high-rise construction is spoiling the urban landscape. The Selous National Park in Tanzania is endangered by the construction of a major dam, while a new airport under construction in Machu Picchu will destroy the sacred landscape of the site.

“We look forward to learning more about the Our World Heritage initiative, since it raises issues of concern to the World Heritage Committee, many of which have long standing,” said Unesco.

“We welcome all initiatives, including from civil society that aim to strengthen the protection of cultural and natural heritage, address new and rising challenges, and foster constructive dialogue and advocacy with member states and heritage stakeholders at large.”


 
© Kazoo 5 Limited 2021