The project ‘Protection, Preservation and Prosperity: Stories of World Heritage,’ is being launched today by UNESCO and the Smithsonian Institution to celebrate the World Heritage Convention. Using mobile phone technology to reach the wider public, the project focuses on 10 World Heritage sites which embody, in particular, the role of local communities in World Heritage preservation. The initiative falls within the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two institutions in September 2010.
The M’Zab Valley in Algeria, Kakadu National Park in Australia, the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou in China, the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, the Fagus Factory in Alfeld, Germany, the Cliff of Bandiagara in Mali, the Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila, Mexico, and Everglades and Taos Pueblo in the United States are the sites highlighted by the project.
The stories of the 10 selected sites are featured on a new English and French website, www.worldheritage.si.edu, which will launch, alongside a mobile app, an online poster exhibition. These interactive tools provide valuable insight into how the 189 States Parties to the Convention protect and preserve the 962 cultural and natural World Heritage sites around the world.
By merging UNESCO’s vast archival resources with the Smithsonian’s world-renowned historic specimens, the ‘Protection, Preservation and Prosperity’ initiative will emphasize the importance of inscribed sites and their relationship to human development and history. For instance, the National Museum of Natural History has a collection of Agave botanical samples dating back to the 1950s; the use of these plants has helped shape the Teuchitlan culture for the past 2,000 years. Similarly, the artwork hosted by the Sackler Gallery of Art illustrates the symbiotic relationship between China’s West Lake landscape and the poets and artists who resided there.
“The launch of ‘Protection, Preservation and Prosperity’ offers local communities a forum to share their experiences and ideas as central players in the preservation of heritage,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. “This is a welcome event as we dedicate the 40th anniversary celebration of the World Heritage Convention to sustainable development and the role of local communities.”
Richard Kurin, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for History, Art and Culture said, “UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention has played an enormous role in preserving the treasure of humanity and the natural wonders of the planet in a way that will inspire future generations. We expect this website and app to extend that fine work.
The ‘Protection, Preservation and Prosperity’ interactive tools can be viewed and downloaded at www.worldheritage.si.edu.