World Heritage Site tag – UPSC Prelims

What is a World Heritage Site tag?
  • A World Heritage Site is an area or object inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • The sites are included for their outstanding universal value.
  • They are designated under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972.
  • The World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat to the 1972 Convention.
  • This signifies cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional that it surpasses national boundaries and becomes a site of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.
  • There are three types of sites: Cultural, Natural, and Mixed.
    • Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting. Example: Dholavira: a Harappan City.
    • Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that have excellent ecological and evolutionary processes, unique natural phenomena, habitats of rare or endangered species etc. Example: Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area.
    • Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance. Example: Khangchendzonga National Park.
Selection Criteria: To be included, sites must meet at least one of the  ten selection criteria. This includes:
  1. site representing a masterpiece of human creative genius or
  2. exhibiting an important interchange of human values over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world or
  3. to be an outstanding example of a type of building that illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history or
  4. bearing unique or exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or
  5. to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement or
  6. 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 or
  7. to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance or
  8. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history or
  9. to be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution or
  10. to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.
How are sites recognized?
  • The World Heritage Convention’s operational guidelines say that a tentative list is like an inventory of properties a country thinks should be on the World Heritage Site.
  • After UNESCO includes the property in the Tentative List, the country prepares a nomination document that will be considered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.