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We are all Futurekeepers

Our heritage is our future

Climate change is now the biggest threat to some of the planet’s most beautiful locations: natural World Heritage sites. From shrinking glaciers to coral bleaching to increasingly frequent and severe fires and droughts, we’re already seeing the damage climate change causes. The life of biodiversity-rich, diverse and unique ecosystems as well as human communities who live in these sites is at risk.

Right now, at this moment, there are men and women everywhere working tirelessly every minute of every day to preserve these beautiful locations form the disastrous threats they’re facing. And the blood, sweat and tears they shed? They’re for you, your family, humanity and posterity. They are the Futurekeepers.

These are the Futurekeepers.

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Become a Futurekeeper

Natural World Heritage sites belong to humanity. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect them. While the main causes of climate change are linked to human activity, we are just as much a part of the solution as the problem. Play your part and support the critical work taking place to protect our planet’s most precious places. Because We Are All Futurekeepers.

Your contribution will support actions at site-level to respond to inevitable climate-related changes in the near future. These include identifying knowledge gaps and improving monitoring networks, designing and implementing early warning and disaster risk reduction measures, making the sites a focus of targeted policy, and promoting knowledge exchange, stakeholder engagement and communication.

Glaciers

Glaciers are of critical importance for sustaining life on Earth. They provide vital water resources to half of humanity and have an important cultural and religious significance for many local communities.

Around 18,600 glaciers have been identified in 50 World Heritage sites. However, these glaciers are retreating at an accelerating rate because of climate change. By 2050, glaciers in one-third of World Heritage sites will disappear but glaciers in the other two-thirds of sites could be saved by limiting global warming to 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial levels.

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Forests

Forests in UNESCO World Heritage sites cover approximately 69 million hectares, roughly twice the size of Germany. They play a crucial role in regulating the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Every year, World Heritage forests absorb approximately 190 million tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to half the United Kingdom’s annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels.

However, forests in at least 10 of these globally valuable World Heritage sites emitted more carbon than they absorbed. Increasing land-use pressure and climate-related hazards such as wildfires will put more sites at risk in the coming years. Continued reliance on these forests’ carbon sinks and storage depends on improved forest protection.

Marine

Today, the UNESCO World Heritage List includes 50 ocean places of Outstanding Universal Value to humanity across 37 countries. These places are recognized for their exceptional marine biodiversity, singular ecosystem, unique geological processes and incomparable beauty.

UNESCO’s transformative action focuses on building resilience through the reduction of on-site pressures, empowering local communities toward holistic climate adaptation strategies and assessing the impacts of climate change across World Heritage-listed marine protected areas.

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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the living fabric of our planet. It underpins human wellbeing in the present and in the future, and its rapid decline threatens nature and people alike. It is vital to transform people’s roles, actions and relationships with biodiversity, to halt and reverse its decline. UNESCO's transformative action is based on three pillars: restoring the relationship between humans and nature, conserving the harmony of our ecosystems, and amplifying the power of youth.

Sustainable Tourism

Over 90% of listed natural World Heritage sites create jobs and provide income from tourism and recreation. However, massive tourism visitation is among one of the top threats to these sites. Strengthening an enabling environment by advocating policies and frameworks that support sustainable tourism is vital to protect these sites for future generations.

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Photos: © 2016 Polynesian Voyaging Society and ʻŌiwi TV, © Mark Kelley, © OUR PLACE The World Heritage Collection, © DBCA / Sam Lawrence, © Marc Spalding, © Sayamindu Dasgupta, © UNESCO / Robbert Casier, © Hellfire Creative, © Jessica Constance, © Baakantse Satau, © Charles Hood, © Hellfire Creative, © UNESCO, © Mark Kelley

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