UNESCO World Heritage Centre
World heritage is found in places of great importance in regards to the natural and cultural history of the world. These places can be manmade or shaped by nature, and are an important part of the history of human kind. World heritage is a gift we have received from the past, and it is not simply something we must live with, but something we have to protect for future generations. Earth’s cultural and natural heritage is not only an irreplaceable source of knowledge, but it exists as pure inspiration for those of us currently on this planet, and we are responsible for ensuring that this sensation is passed on to our children, and their children after them.
The diversity in world heritage is incredible and includes unique places of natural and cultural importance. As an example these include the pyramids in Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the West Norwegian Fjords. One of the things that make world heritage such an incredibly thing is that it is universal. The places, buildings and areas inscribed on the World Heritage List belong to the world as a whole, no matter where it is actually physically located.
UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation. The organisation encouragea identification of cultural and natural heritage seen to have a prominent, universal value, and they encourage the protection of such a heritage in any part of the world. This is part of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by UNESCO in 1972.
Today the World Heritage List contains more than 1000 places, both from a cultural background and natural areas. In order to be inscribed onto the list, the suggested place has to fulfil at least one of ten criteria. These criteria are adjusted on a regular basis to reflect the development of world heritage as a concept. In Norway the Ministry of Climate and Environment is responsible for nominating places for the list.
You can read more about the purposes of UNESCO’s World Heritage here.
UNESCO World Heritage Centre
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre was established in 1992, and serves as both a headquarters for the organisation as well as a coordinator in relation to all world heritage related subjects.
The centre is responsible for the day to day running of the organisation and following up on the criteria that have to be fulfilled in order to receive world heritage status. The centre arranges yearly meetings for both the World Heritage Committee and the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee.
The World Heritage Committee consists of 21 representatives from the nations that are members of the convention, and they are elected at the General Assembly. The committee is responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention, to define the usage of the World Heritage Fund and distribute financial assistance based on requests from the relevant ministries from the different nations. The World Heritage Committee is responsible for making the decision as to whether a place, natural area or building is inscribed onto the World Heritage List. The Bureau for the committee consists of seven members from the member nations, and is chosen by the committee on a yearly basis. Their work is to coordinate the work and meetings for the committee.
The UNESCO centre advices nations that are in the process of making nominations for the World Heritage List. They also organise international assistance from the World Heritage Fund by request. The Centre coordinates rapports on the status of nominees for the World Heritage List and any emergency measures that need to be implemented in case the places are under threat.
The Centre is responsible for organising technical seminars and workshops, as well as updating the World Heritage List’s database. Additionally they are responsible for the development of teaching materials in order to increase knowledge amongst young people about the importance of looking after our world heritage for the future. The centre also has as their goal to educate humankind in general on questions raised in relation to world heritage.
The Norwegian UNESCO Commission
The Norwegian UNESCO commission is a link between the private sector and the Norwegian government. It consists of 12 members elected by the Ministry of Education and Research. The elected members must have competence within at least one of UNESCO’s fields of expertise. The commission work on an advisory basis for the Norwegian government and functions as a link between the government and the expertise that fall within UNESCO’s responsibilities. The commission distributes funds through grants once a year. The Ministry for Education and Research is responsible for the secretariat for the Norwegian UNESCO Commission.
You can find out more about UNESCO and Norwegian world heritage here.