The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage sites around the World considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”
The World Heritage List was initially established by the International Treaty of 1972: “The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.” The Treaty generated international cooperation and participation. The goal was to safeguard the sites with resources from UNESCO and local governments through rigorous management and reporting procedures.
UNESCO’S Selection Criteria (www.unesco.org)
- to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
- to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
- to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
- to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
- to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
- to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
- to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
- to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
- to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
- to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.
Since 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.
Italy is loaded with these cultural global gems. Europe and North America have 49% of the 890 sites. In 2009, Italy had 44 inscribed properties, more than any other country in the world!
World Heritage List