The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Krakow since 2 July, closed its annual meeting. During the 41st Session, the Committee inscribed 21 new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It also extended or modified the boundaries of five sites already on the List.
The new inscriptions bring to 1,073 the total number of sites on the World Heritage List. Angola and Eritrea saw their first sites joint the List during the present session. The Committee furthermore added one site to the List of World Heritage in Danger, from which it removed three other sites.
The new natural sites are:
- Los Alerces National Park (Argentina)
- Qinghai Hoh Xil (China)
- Landscapes of Dauria (Mongolia/Russian Federation)
The new cultural sites are:
- Mbanza Kongo, Vestiges of the Capital of the former Kingdom of Kongo (Angola)
- Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site (Brazil)
- Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, Archaeological Site of Ancient Ishanapura (Cambodia)
- Kulangsu: a Historic International Settlement (China)
- Venetian Works of Defence between 15th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – western Stato da Mar (Croatia, Italy, Montenegro)
- Kujataa Greenland: Norse and Inuit Farming at the Edge of the Ice Cap (Denmark)
- Asmara: a Modernist City of Africa (Eritrea)
- Taputapuātea (France)
- Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura (Germany)
- Historic City of Ahmadabad (India)
- Historic City of Yazd (Islamic Republic of Iran)
- Sacred Island of Okinoshima and Associated Sites in the Munakata Region (Japan)
- Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Palestine)
- Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine and its Underground Water Management System (Poland)
- Assumption Cathedral and Monastery of the town-island of Sviyazhsk (Russian Federation)
- ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape (South Africa)
- Aphrodisias (Turkey)
- The English Lake District (United Kingdom)
The extensions to existing sites are:
- Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine) [formerly “Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” (Germany, Slovakia, Ukraine)]
- W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (Benin, Burkina Faso) [formerly “W National Park of Niger” (Niger)]
- Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau [formerly “Bauhaus and its sites in Weimar et Dessau”], Germany
- Strasbourg: from Grande-île to Neustadt, a European urban scene [formerly “Strasbourg – Grande Ile”], France
The Committee decided on a significant reduction in the perimeter of the Georgian site of Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, withdrawing Gelati Monastery from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The Historic Centre of Vienna, on the other hand, was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger. The site of Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town was inscribed simultaneously on the List of World Heritage and on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which presently numbers 54 sites.
Statement from Prof. Jacek Purchla, chair of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee:
The overall success of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee will undoubtedly be down to the 21 new sites inscribed onto the World Heritage List – a lot more than one might have expected. In addition, these are listings which respond to the actual challenges presented by State Parties of the Convention. We are mostly concerned here with broadening the geographical scope covered by the new listings, as well as the balance between Europe and other continents. It is therefore worth mentioning the inclusion of Asmara in Eritrea, the first modernist city in Africa, as well as the historic city centre of M'banza-Kongo in Angola.
This 41st Session was not like all the others. As its Polish hosts, it was important for us to introduce something unique into the process of the Convention's evolution since year 1972. And so we can say, with pride, that we have managed to add openness to civil society and non-governmental organisations to the proceedings, as well as to host the first ever Civil Society Forum. This is very important, seeing as we cannot effectively protect world heritage without involving individuals and groups. The second, essential aspect was that Poland showed itself to be a country with substantial tradition and experience in the field of conservation and politics of protecting our heritage. Organising, for the first time, the World Heritage Site Managers Forum, we wanted to stress that the question of conservation standards is one of the biggest problems we are continually faced with. It is relatively easy to add new sites onto the World Heritage List – yet it is much harder to then manage these sites, as a result of so-called “civilisational pressures”.
Statement from Katarzyna Piotrowska, the head of the delivery team of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee:
Organising the 41 session of the World Heritage Committee was a very sizeable and complex challenge, one which required the involvement numerous government institutions, many public security and safety agencies, as well as a vast range of subcontractors. All the work was coordinated by the National Heritage Board, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. All the tasks involved in delivering the event were completed successfully. As organisers, we were able to meet both the needs and requirements of UNESCO, as well as those of the 2000 attendees from around the world.
Preparations for delivering the Session programme took around seven months. As well as coordinating all of the organisational duties, the National Heritage Board was responsible for designing the event programme, while also preparing the Polish delegation responsible for the four year Committee mandate. The Board was simultaneously engaged in preparing the proposal for inscribing the Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine and its Underground Water Management System onto the World Heritage Site list. The team responsible for this application included 35 individuals, who completed a number of tasks and simultaneously supervised the work of several hundred subcontractors. The additional attractions on offer to the Session attendees proved popular – guests from around the world could visit a selection of Poland's own World Heritage Sites and take part in over 50 side events, including talks, exhibitions and cultural events organised by various State Parties. Thanks to the incredible dedication and hard work from all the individuals and institutions involved in delivering the events, the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee, held between 2-12 of July in Krakow, can now be seen as a remarkable success. We have received numerous messages of thanks and congratulations from across the globe.