The 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee concluded with a call to safeguard world heritage, particularly those vulnerable to natural and man-made threats.
“The sites we preserve have stories of their own and we must protect them no matter what our differences are,” said Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of the 38th Session, urging the committee and state parties “to continue to think about people living in vulnerable and unbearable situations.”
The 10-day session has resulted in the adoption of 231 decisions and 26 new inscriptions to the World Heritage List. The newly inscribed properties comprise 21 cultural, four natural and one mixed sites as well as four extensions.
Sheikha Al Mayassa noted the emergency inscription of Battir in Palestine as a testimony to how “culture has once again able to transcend socio-political lines for the benefit of mankind.”
She commended Unesco for welcoming Palestine as a fully active state member despite the financial consequences they continue to face.
“This, to me, indicates that culture is before anything a humanitarian effort to safeguard properties, people and identities for centuries to come,” she said.
She called culture “a bridge of hope” in which everyone has a role to play to bring justice and peace.
With regard to the newly created emergency fund to support world heritage, she said it was important for Qatar to create the fund to move quickly in cases of natural catastrophes and other dangers.
“New sites have been added to the list and they are the property of humanity and their entirety will be transmitted to the future generations. I would like to take this opportunity to call upon the members of the committee to make contributions to the fund.”
She urged everyone to look forward and think about the future of world heritage as more sites would be included in the list which now has 1,007.
“The list is not a beauty contest. It must be the guarantee of the protection and the safeguarding of the common heritage we have received from those before us and it is our duty to transmit to future generations. It is our responsibility to ensure that the convention remains a credible instrument we can be proud of.
“Let us keep that spirit of a great family of heritage to enable us to protect what we have that is most precious to transmit heritage in our common history.”
Kishore Rao, Director, Unesco World Heritage Centre, thanked Qatar for the fund.
“We are most grateful for this support and very generous contribution which will no doubt reinforce our actions,” he said.
Rao underscored world heritage as an instrument of sustainable development in the 21st century that unites communities and reinforces dialogue and cooperation.
“The fundamental role played by culture in building peace and democracy and achieving sustainable development is now well recognised. In this framework, the power of culture for development is an integral part of the contribution of Unesco to the post-2015 development agenda.
“However, heritage is at stake and we must be vigilant, we must anticipate the future and take preventive measures to shape our common destiny.”