Will U.S. Withdrawal from Unesco Affect Heritage Sites?


Studies also suggest that World Heritage status has a direct impact on the local economy. In Texas where the San Antonio Missions (Spanish Colonial missions dating to 1690) were designated a World Heritage Site in 2015, an economic analysis conducted by Harbinger Consulting Group estimated that over 10 years, from 2015 to 2025, the designation will generate between 500 and 1,000 new jobs plus up to $2 million in local hotel tax revenue.

Increases in tourism can also bring challenges to a site. “Tourism and development can cause both positive and negative consequences,” said Dr. Simon. “Many of the more than 1,000 World Heritage sites are struggling with keeping a balance between the economic benefits created by soaring tourism and development, and connected threats to the cultural significance which originally put them on the list.”

According to Mr. Papagiannis, Unesco’s objective is to demonstrate the shared heritage of people around the globe with its World Heritage List. “Stand at the foot of the Acropolis and then stand on the steps of Independence Hall and you can sense the connection,” Mr. Papagiannis said. “Both encourage visitors to reflect on the beginning of the ideas of democracy.” Sites are chosen for “how they speak powerfully to people across cultures,” he said.

Beyond the World Heritage List, Unesco also operates a list called World Heritage in Danger. This list of 54 sites, including the Everglades National Park in Florida, raises a red flag for places that are currently facing threats, whether from natural causes like an earthquake or from political conflict.

Unesco can also help travelers discover cultural traditions through its Intangible Cultural Heritage program. Travelers may find inspiration when reading about a wide range of customs that include dance, music, crafts, storytelling, festivals and culinary traditions. Reading about the craftsmanship of handmade paper in Japan, beer culture in Belgium or puppetry in Slovakia may plant a seed for a future trip.

In addition to the World Heritage program, Unesco works on a range of issues including journalistic freedom and access to information, education, equality for women, climate change, clean water and promoting women in science. “Unesco focuses, in particular, on two global priorities: Africa and gender equality,” Dr. Simon said. “With this, I think it is obvious that Unesco’s mission is more than just valuable, it is essential.”

The L’Oréal-Unesco for Women in Science Initiative offers awards to international women researchers and scientists. In 2018, five Award Laureates will each receive an award of 100,000 euros.

Source : Nytimes