Two Pacific SIDS submit first Tentative Lists

Monday, 4 March 2024 at 11:00
access_time 2 min read

The Cook Islands and Tuvalu, two SIDS State Parties in the Pacific, submitted their first Tentative Lists in January 2024, marking a significant step in their continuing efforts on preserving their unique heritage.

The Cook Islands officially submitted their first Tentative List to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre on 17 January 2024, featuring the “Maungaroa Cultural Landscape” situated in the heart of Rarotonga, the capital island that boasts a distinctive landscape shaped by erosion and periodic submersions, transforming mountains into gentle hills. The Maungaroa Valley, on the western side of Rarotonga, stands as the largest cultural landscape in the Cook Islands, encompassing a sprawling area of dense tropical forest, streams, rivers as well as four well-preserved clusters of structures, reflecting centuries of communal living, intricate road systems, and evidence of shifting cultivation. The valley preserves the remains of settlement sites of the Vaka Puaikura and descendants of Chief Tinomana, offering a remarkable glimpse into the Eastern Polynesian social structure prior to European contact.

Maungaroa Cultural Landscape (Cook Islands) © Infrastructure Cook Islands

Tuvalu submitted its Tentative List on 24 January 2024, following its ratification of the World Heritage Convention on 18 May 2023. “The Pacific Atoll-Island Cultural Landscape of Tuvalu” encompasses six atolls and three reef islands positioned midway between Australia and Hawaii. These low-lying islands, none higher than 6 meters above sea level, present a distinctive cultural tradition shaped by environmental and geopolitical circumstances. The submission emphasizes the enduring practices of land use and sea use, vital for the survival of the atoll communities and showcases the persistence of Tuvalu's unique cultural autonomy, characterized by firm kinship, descent-based society, and traditional governance amidst increasing impact of globalization. It also draws attention to the challenges posed by climate change, underlining the urgency to safeguard these cultural landscapes.

Pacific Atoll-Island Cultural Landscape (Tuvalu) © MHACCEW

Tuvalu is the most recent country to ratify the World Heritage Convention, and the Cook Islands ratified in 2009. They are among  the nine countries without property inscribed on the World Heritage list in the Asia Pacific region. To support their efforts in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, the World Heritage Centre organized national capacity-building workshops for the Cook Islands (11-15 March 2013, Rorotonga) and for Tuvalu (10-11 March 2015, Funafuti) within the framework of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust project "Capacity Building to Support the Conservation of World Heritage Sites and Enhance Sustainable Development of Local Communities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)".

The submissions of the Tentative List of the Cook Islands and Tuvalu mark crucial efforts towards addressing the imbalance of the World Heritage List, recognising the unique cultural, historical, and ecological significance of their landscapes. The nominations will undergo a comprehensive evaluation process, with the potential to contribute to the representation of the Pacific region's diverse heritage on the global stage.

Monday, 4 March 2024 at 11:00
access_time 2 min read
Regions 1
Asia and the Pacific