Thirty-nine nominations from 33 countries will be considered for inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List during the meeting of the World Heritage Committee underway in Brasilia. Three of the countries - Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tajikistan - have no properties inscribed on the World Heritage List to date.
The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and Brazil's Minister of Culture João Luiz da Silva Ferreira formally opened the 34th session of the Committee here on the evening of Sunday 25 July. The meeting continues through to 3 August.
In her opening address, Irina Bokova stressed the link between heritage and the world's major development challenges. "I am convinced this Committee can blaze new trails," said the Director-General. "Sites can be testing grounds for innovative protective measures that closely involve communities" and "real laboratories of sustainable development in practice." This is a "message that UNESCO is promoting throughout this International Year of Biodiversity," she said.
The Minister of Culture of Brazil hailed the fact that "heritage is no longer treated in an isolated way" but has become an integral part of national development planning. He also underscored the importance of further improving the representativity of the world's myriad cultures on the World Heritage List.
The 39 nominations submitted this year include 8 natural, 29 cultural and 2 mixed (i.e. both natural and cultural) properties, as well as 9 extensions to properties already listed (see list below).
The Committee will also review the state of conservation of 147 World Heritage properties, including the 31 sites inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and another 36 that are causing serious concern. The In Danger List features sites which are threatened by a variety of problems such as pollution, urban development, poorly managed mass tourism, wars and natural disasters, which have a negative impact on the outstanding values for which the sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, comprises representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for four years. Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List. The sites are proposed by the States Parties. Applications are then reviewed by two advisory bodies: cultural sites by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and natural sites by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which inform the Committee of their recommendations. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM) provides expert advice on conservation and training in restoration techniques.
The World Heritage Committee also examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take appropriate conservation and preservation measures when necessary. The Committee supervises the disbursement of over $4 million annually from the World Heritage Fund, aimed, among other purposes, at emergency action, training of experts and encouraging technical cooperation. UNESCO's World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee.
To date, the World Heritage List recognizes 890 properties of "outstanding universal value," including 689 cultural, 176 natural and 25 mixed properties in 148 States Parties.
Natural properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List:
- Pirin National Park (extension, Bulgaria)
- Danxia (China)
- Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island (France)
- Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati)
- Dinosaur Ichnites of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal / Spain)
- Putorana Plateau (Russian Federation)
- Monte San Giorgio (extension of "Monte San Giorgio", Switzerland, Italy)
- Tajik National Park, Mountains of the Pamirs (Tajikistan)
Cultural properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List:
- Australian Convict Sites (Australia)
- City of Graz - Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg (extension of the "City of Graz - Historic Centre", Austria)
- Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium)
- São Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristóvão (Brazil)
- Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in "The Centre of Heaven and Earth" (Originally "Historic monuments of Mount Songshan") (China)
- Konso Cultural Landscape (Ethiopia)
- Episcopal City of Albi (France)
- Upper Harz Water Management System (extension of "Mines of Rammelsberg and Historic Town of Goslar") (Germany)
- The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (India)
- Matheran Light Railway (extension of the "Mountain Railways of India") (India)
- Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil (Islamic Republic of Iran)
- Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (Islamic Republic of Iran)
- The Triple-arch Gate at Dan (Israel)
- Fort Jesus, Mombasa (Kenya)
- Bikini Atoll Nuclear Tests Site (Marshall Islands)
- Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Mexico)
- Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca (Mexico)
- Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (Netherlands)
- Røros Mining Town and the Circumference (extension of "Røros Mining Town") (Norway)
- Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (Republic of Korea)
- Church of the Resurrection of Suceviţa Monastery (extension of the "Churches of Moldavia") (Romania)
- At-Turaif District in ad-Dir'iyah (Saudi Arabia)
- Palaeolithic Rock Art Ensemble in Siega Verde (extension of "Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley"), (Portugal, Spain)
- The Mercury and Silver Binomial. Almadén and Idrija with San Luis Potosí (Spain / Mexico /Slovenia)
- Sarazm (Tajikistan)
- Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral with Related Monastic Buildings, St. Cyril's and St. Andrew's Churches, Kiev Pechersk Lavra (extension of "Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev Pechersk Lavra"), (Ukraine)
- Darwin's Landscape Laboratory (United Kingdom)
- Ngorongoro Conservation Area (re-nomination under additional criteria), (United Republic of Tanzania)
- Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Hanoi (Viet Nam).
Mixed properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List:
- Central Highlands of Sri Lanka: its Cultural and Natural Heritage ( Sri Lanka)
- Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaii (United States of America)