In order to avoid any damaging confusion, UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that there is no link whatsoever between UNESCO's World Heritage programme, which aims to protect world heritage, and the current campaign concerning "The New 7 Wonders of the World".
This campaign was launched in 2000 as a private initiative by Bernard Weber, the idea being to encourage citizens around the world to select seven new wonders of the world by popular vote.
Although UNESCO was invited to support this project on several occasions, the Organization decided not to collaborate with Mr. Weber.
UNESCO's objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough. Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up. The relevant authorities must also demonstrate commitment to these frameworks as well as to permanently monitoring the state of conservation of sites. The task is one of technical conservation and political persuasion. There is also a clear educational role with respect to the sites' inherent value, the threats they face and what must be done to prevent their loss.
There is no comparison between Mr Weber's mediatised campaign and the scientific and educational work resulting from the inscription of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List*. The list of the "7 New Wonders of the World" will be the result of a private undertaking, reflecting only the opinions of those with access to the internet and not the entire world. This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public.
* New sites will be added to UNESCO's World Heritage List during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 23 June to 2 July.