One of the gaps of the World Heritage list, as identified by ICOMOS in 2004, concerns sites that are relevant in the context of aerospace history, i.e. aviation and/or astronautics.
This gap persists until today; it has also been considered in the context of the broader discussions of the World Heritage list, such as the discussion of (lack of) coverage of sites both representative of the history of civil engineering, of industrial heritage as well as of the history of science and technology. Therefore, there have been several events discussing the issue of potential aerospace World Heritage, e.g. upon the 50th anniversary of the Sputnik, in the international workshop “Ground Space Facilities and Launch Pads”, as well as studies in the context of the IAU/UNESCO astronomy study and in national ICOMOS contexts.
Sites of aerospace history present unique benefits, since they have new dimensions for humanity, in understanding the globe as a joint home of humanity, in technological aspiration, in overcoming traditional limitations of mankind, and in intercultural dialogue. Global citizenship is unthinkable without aerospace technology. Most innovations have been created in international dialogue. Aerospace history is also unique in that by its very nature its innovations involve not to be bound to a specific site, but to enabling leaving the Earth’s surface. At the same time, aerospace history in its initial phases has been closely connected to military demands, in all countries, also involving criminal acts of massive human rights violations. Some sites are not well-preserved, others still in heavy use.
The side event will present the case why it is important to address the gap of the World Heritage side. It will also present an overview of the current debates. The organizers are convinced that all future nominations should be pursued in international dialogue and wherever possible in transnational serial nomination.
The side-event should be an important platform to support dialogue and to join efforts.