Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to
Encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
Encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
Encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
Help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
Provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
Support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
Encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
Encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.
The Convention defines the kind of natural or cultural sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.
Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.