Dear friends of World Heritage, 

I would like to thank you once again for all of your support over the past year, to help protect our most precious heritage: All of you count! Whether you work in heritage conservation, work at a site, travel as a tourist, or even just visit the heritage places near your home, your awareness and efforts make a difference. It is also important to us to receive your feedback about what is happening at World Heritage sites. Often, the information you send us is crucial to our being able to take action and fulfill our role in the best way possible. 

Every year, we have more sites to protect and more urgent situations to contend with. We are seeing more fires and natural disasters, such as the fires at Notre Dame (France) or Shuri Castle (Japan), the bushfires raging in Australia, and the floods in the Historic Town of Grand-Bassam in Côte d’Ivoire. We are there to assist in case of need, as the emergency mission to Grand Bassam demonstrated. We carried out 23 Reactive Monitoring Missions with our partners to assist in heritage conservation on the ground.

This year, there were many positive developments too. As ever, UNESCO continues to bring together experts in different disciplines from all over the world to share their knowledge and experience at many technical and training workshops with our partners, including for the ongoing Periodic Reporting exercise in the Arab and African regions. There was also the first guide for the insurance industry on protecting World Heritage sites, and female members of the armed forces in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan were trained to protect cultural heritage. We continue to develop our partnerships, such as with Seabourn cruise line, to extend the reach of what we can do. Your continued support to broaden our partnerships is much needed. We brought 34 Young Professionals from the Arab region together in Tunis for a workshop “Empowering youth to build peace through the protection and preservation of heritage” to engage and empower youth in their critical roles as global citizens towards peacebuilding, through the protection, preservation and promotion of World Heritage.

At the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku (Azerbaijan), 29 new sites were included in the List, and the Committee examined the state of conservation of 166 World Heritage sites, and took 245 decisions concerning World Heritage preservation. We will continue this good work in Fuzhou, China, next summer. 

I look forward to working hard together again next year as we pursue this valuable mission to protect our irreplaceable natural and cultural sites, which are so meaningful for all of us. 

I wish you festive holidays and enjoy reading the World Heritage Review!

Mechtild Rössler
Director
UNESCO World Heritage Centre