This World Oceans Day, the World Heritage Centre highlights the power of art to inspire people all over the world to step up efforts to protect our Marine World Heritage for future generations.
Since the first true marine site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981, Marine World Heritage has grown into a global collection of 49 sites that stretch from the tropics to the poles. The collection of sites is a heaven for endangered species such as the vaquita and a host of endemic animals. It includes the breeding grounds of the world's last healthy population of grey whales, the highest density of ancestral polar-bear dens, the inimitable marine iguanas and much more. Marine World Heritage also includes 29 coral reef systems.
Despite their iconic status, World Heritage sites are not immune to the challenges the ocean face. Plastic pollution, unbridled coastal development or unsustainable fisheries all threaten the Outstanding Universal Value of these unique places. Last summer, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre released the first global scientific assessment of climate change impacts on World Heritage coral reefs that confirmed the sobering outlook for World Heritage listed coral reefs. The assessment concluded that local management, while essential to build resilience, is no longer enough and delivering on the Paris Agreement targets is key to secure the future of these places.
The colourful diversity of UNESCO World Heritage-listed coral reefs inspired the 19-yr old Belgian artist VEXX to create an artwork to celebrate the 2018 World Oceans Day. Through his colourful doodles and drawings, he wants to raise attention for the challenges World Heritage marine sites face.
“Young people play a crucial role in the conservation of our World Heritage, and the power of art and culture to inspire the world is central to raising global attention for the irreplaceable beauty and diversity we stand to lose if we don’t act together to protect them. I therefore thank VEXX’s contribution for this World Oceans Day,” says Mechtild Rössler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre.
In 2017 for World Oceans Day, youth from 10 World Heritage marine sites addressed the United Nations General Assembly, calling world leaders to protect the world from climate change. The My Ocean Pledge signature was opened by His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) features a special photo exhibit “Coral reefs, a challenge for humanity" at the headquarters of UNESCO from 2 June to 30 August 2018 in celebration of World Oceans Day.