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UNESCO World Heritage: 42 new sites inscribed
The 45th session of the World Heritage Committee concluded on Monday 25 September in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This year, the Committee inscribed 42 new sites and approved the extension of 5 sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

At the end of its fortnight's work, the Committee inscribed 42 new sites, of which 33 are cultural sites and 9 are natural sites. These sites will now benefit from the highest level of heritage protection in the world. They will also have access to new opportunities for technical and financial assistance from UNESCO. These inscriptions bring the total number of UNESCO World Heritage sites to 1199 across 168 countries. The World Heritage Committee also approved the extension of 5 sites and examined the state of conservation of 263 sites that were already inscribed.

Representatives of the 195 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention and nearly 300 civil society organizations were present in Riyadh for this session of the Committee. They worked together on how to tackle the major global challenges facing heritage: climate change, urban development and demographic pressure, armed conflicts and mass tourism.

UNESCO also presented studies and innovative solutions for management, conservation, and raising public awareness, such as the immersive Dive Into Heritage tool, which from 2025, will enable the general public to explore World Heritage sites online.

Finally, six World Heritage properties in Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, the Marshall Islands and Sri Lanka were awarded international funding totaling 336,000 USD to support local conservation projects. In 2022 and 2023, more than thirty sites benefited from such financial aid, which totaled more than 1 million USD.

Source: World Heritage Centre

 

A decisive year for African heritage

With 5 new sites inscribed this year, Africa has reached the symbolic milestone of 100 sites on the World Heritage List. Rwanda had its first 2 inscriptions: Nyungwe National Park and the genocide memorial sites at Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero. This session was also marked by the removal of the "Tombs of the Buganda Kings at Kasubi" in Uganda from the World Heritage in Danger list, following an ambitious restoration project implemented by the Ugandan authorities and local communities with the support of UNESCO.

With the aim of increasing the number of African heritage sites on the World Heritage List, the States Parties to the Convention also adopted a dedicated strategy for the continent developed by UNESCO. This strategy will provide better support for African states carrying out local conservation projects and preparing World Heritage nomination files.

Two new inscriptions on the List of World Heritage in Danger

During this session, two Ukrainian sites were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, due to threats linked to shelling. "Saint Sophia's Cathedral and complex of monastic and Lavra buildings in Kyiv-Pechersk" and "the ensemble of the historic centre in Lviv" join the "Historic Centre of Odesa", which was inscribed on the list in January 2023 for the same reason.

Inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger further strengthens local conservation measures. It also opens the door to international technical and financial support, as well as signaling the importance of helping to protect these sites to all 195 States Parties to the Convention.

New recognition for ‘Sites of Memory’

During this session, 3 Sites of Memory linked to recent conflicts were added to the World Heritage List: Argentina’s “ESMA Museum and Place of Memory - Former Clandestine Detention, Torture and Extermination Centre", Rwanda’s “Genocide Memorial Sites: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero", and Belgium and France’s “Funeral and Memorial Sites of the Western Front in the First World War”.

Sites of Memory are places in which an event occurred that a nation and its people, or certain communities wish to memorialize. Either already accessible, or made accessible to the public, these sites become places of reconciliation, contemplation and peaceful reflection. The inclusion of Sites of Memory on the World Heritage List makes them part of our shared global heritage, and recognizes the part they play in the peace process.


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