Our World Heritage
December 10, 2010
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” John Donne
In 1972, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) inaugurated a World Heritage list by adopting a treaty known as the World Heritage Convention. Its continuing goal is to recruit the world community in identifying cultural and natural properties of "outstanding universal value".
UNESCO officials don't see the list as a mere trophy case of superlative places. World Heritage status commits the home nation to protect the designated location. If a site--through natural disaster, war, pollution, or lack of funds--begins to lose its value, nations that have signed the treaty must assist, if possible, in emergency aid campaigns. As of June 2010, 187 of the world's 192 nations have signed the treated.
While places are deemed worthy of protection, so are people. UNESCO has not only adopted the World Heritage treaty to preserve the world's most treasured places, it has also established programs to honor and protect human cultures. These programs are based on intangible representations of human qualities, including languages, oral literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, costumes, craft skills, and traditional knowledge.
In some programs, entire cultures are honored, such as the Ifugao people in the Philippines who are recognized for their chants that take up to four days to recite. In other programs, a single person, such as a master craftsman, is recognized for skills and techniques that are considered essential for the continuation of a particular culture.
Take some time out, and explore what the world has to offer. Add a few of the sites to your bucket list.