Next week, members of the prestigious World Heritage Committee will gather in Cambodia to consider 34 new sites for inclusion on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The occasion marks the 35th year the Committee will meet to add man-made and natural wonders considered to be of “outstanding universal value,” a quality that is said to transcends borders, politics and economics.
The idea to create an international movement to protect the world's cultural and natural wonders emerged after World War I and was further inspired by the rescue of the 13th-century B.C. Egyptian temples of Abu Simbel in 1954. After Cairo announced plans to build a dam that would flood them, Unesco launched a campaign to relocate the temples, brick by brick.
The effort spawned a series of other conservation projects across the globe, and Unesco ultimately formed the World Heritage Center in 1972 at the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The first sites -- such as the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park, and the City of Quito, Ecuador -- were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Since then, the Great Barrier Reef, Great Wall of China, and Great Pyramid of Giza, among 959 others, were stamped with the Unesco seal of approval and, in the process, World Heritage status became a global brand.
This year, the Committee will meet in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) between June 16 and June 27 to examine recommendations from the International Council of Monuments and Sites, or Icomos, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, to select new additions to the World Heritage List. Up for consideration are nine natural properties, 21 cultural sites and four mixed (nature and culture).
Highlights include Mount Etna in Italy, India’s Great Himalayan National Park and the historic city of Alanya, Turkey. Five of the sites up for consideration -- Hill Forts of Rajasthan in India, Al Zubarah Archaeological Site of Qatar, Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong of DPRK, Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex of Russia and Tajik National Park of Tajikistan -- will be given a second chance after having failed for a variety of reasons the first time around.
The Committee will also review the conservation status of several sites already inscribed and make additions to its World Heritage In Danger list, as needed. The 102 sites up for review include Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, the UK’s Causeway Coast, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Jordan’s Petra and Russia’s Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow.
Full List Of Sites Up For World Heritage Status in 2013
Natural properties: Xinjiang Tianshan (China); Great Himalayan National Park (India); Mount Etna (Italy); Mount Kenya-Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (an extension of “Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest, Kenya); El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve (Mexico); Namib Sand Sea (Namibia); Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (Philippines); Tajik National Park (Mountains of the Pamirs) (Tajikistan); Cat Tien National Park (Viet Nam).
Mixed Natural and Cultural Properties: Pimachiowin Aki (Canada); Archipel des Bijagós – Motom Moranghajogo (Guinea Bissau); Sehlabathebe National Park (Lesotho); An extension of “uKhahlamba / Drakensberg Park” (South Africa).
Cultural properties: Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (Canada); Cultural Landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces (China); Historic Monuments and Sites in Kaesong (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea); Levuka Historical Port Town (Fiji); Water features and Hercules within the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Germany); Hill Forts of Rajasthan (India); Golestan Palace (Islamic Republic of Iran); Cultural Landscape of Maymand (Islamic Republic of Iran); Medici Villas and Gardens (Italy); Fujisan (Japan); Town and Castle of Vianden (Luxembourg); Isandra Zoma (Madagascar); Agadez (Historic Centre of Agadez), (Niger); Wieliczka and Bochnia Royal Salt Mines (extension of “Wieliczka Salt Mine”, Poland); Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine (Poland / Ukraine); University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (Portugal); Al Zubarah Archaeological Site (Qatar); Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex (Russian Federation); Historic city of Alanya (Turkey); Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora (5th century BC – 14th century AD, Ukraine).
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Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...