Press release

UNESCO promotes in Mexico a reflection process on the World Heritage Convention, 50 years after its creation

UNESCO, CONALMEX and the Regional Institute of World Heritage in Zacatecas, promote this reflection that will focus on how to strengthen the relationship between culture and nature, the links between the tangible and the intangible and the management strategies of the sites.

Mexico City, August 2, 2021.- With a program of activities that will promote reflection, knowledge and collective appropriation of the Mexican cultural and natural heritage, the Mexican Commission for cooperation with UNESCO (CONALMEX), the Office of UNESCO in Mexico and the Regional Institute of World Heritage in Zacatecas, will commemorate the 50 years of the Convention for the protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, of 1972.

The program of activities that will take place over the course of a year starting in September, will seek to highlight the role that Mexico has had in the application of the World Heritage Convention, the diversity of its recognized heritage typologies (cultural, natural and mixed). and the participation of local communities in heritage management. Since its adoption in 1972, with the aim of identifying and protecting the world's natural and cultural heritage considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value, much has been discussed about its scope, usefulness, and relevance. 50 years away, it is important to carry out an analysis of the road travelled, to evaluate the results obtained and the panorama that can be seen on the horizon.

Based on this Convention, the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger were established.

In the latter, cultural and natural assets can be inscribed in situations of grave danger, such as present or latent armed conflicts (the Buddhas, from the Bamiyan Valley, in Afghanistan, or the city of Mosul, in Iraq).

1153

sites are registered in the WHL

35

inscribed sites in Mexico

The power of the Convention resides in the symbolic force of the notion of World Heritage (monuments, heritage bequeathed by the creative spirit of their ancestors, and the natural heritage in which civilizations have flourished, are the most concrete expression of cultural identity) by constituting a mechanism to encourage countries to safeguard and watch over the assets that they themselves have nominated for recognition.

Current challenges

Still being the only instrument of international law with the possibility of maintaining, under the same unitary discipline, two complex sectors such as the cultural dimension of peoples and the protection of nature, the World Heritage Convention today poses great challenges. It is necessary to strengthen the relationship between culture and nature, thus recovering the essence of the Convention. This is not only crucial for its credibility, it is also essential to ensure integrated conservation and a proper understanding of World Heritage.

Other challenges relate to the management of heritage sites. To achieve the credibility of the Convention it is not enough for the World Heritage List to be more balanced geographically or in terms of heritage categories. The most important thing is that the registered assets reach the best levels of conservation and management, that the greatest possible participation of local communities is achieved, that the best practices for heritage conservation are recognized and, of course, that it is incorporated into the heritage management the sustainable development approach.

It is also important to strengthen the links between the tangible and the intangible, not only because of the importance of existing intangible values, but also because intangible values, particularly in the Latin American and Caribbean region, give meaning and greater value to tangible assets.
 

© Gabriela Velázquez Álvarez

Suculentas

It is also important to strengthen the links between the tangible and the intangible, not only because of the importance of existing intangible values, but also because intangible values, particularly in the Latin American and Caribbean region, give meaning and greater value to tangible assets.

 For example, the Management Plan for the historic center of Puebla (World Heritage List, 1987) should include in its policies and strategies the safeguarding of intangible manifestations related to the artisanal processes for the elaboration of the Talavera (Intangible Heritage List, 2019).

Therefore, and highlighting the relevance of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Convention with the participation of communities, young people, authorities, researchers, academics, non-governmental organizations and other actors involved with the protection of World Heritage, the representatives of the Mexican Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (from the Secretariat of Public Education of Mexico), Jorge Armando Barriguete Meléndez; the UNESCO Office in Mexico, Frédéric Vacheron, and the Regional Institute of World Heritage in Zacatecas, Category 2 Center under the auspices of UNESCO, José Francisco Román Gutiérrez, signed the agreement for the commemoration of this instrument, through of a program that brings together nine activities:

  • creating a digital Museum of World Heritage sites,
  • children's drawing contest on World Heritage sites,
  • youth video contest at World Heritage sites,
  • forum “The 1972 Convention and its impact on education. Balance of 50 years”,
  • 5th cycle of conferences on "The contemporary challenges of the 1972 Convention",
  • thematic videos “Capsules for Development. The effects of World Heritage”,
  • the workshop “The 1972 Convention and the Sustainable Development Goals”,
  • Ibero-American Meeting of Universities on Cultural and Natural Heritage, and
  • publication on the Convention and its importance for Mexico.

Related links 

World Heritage Convention
http://whc.unesco.org/archive/convention-es.pdf   

México in the World Heritage List
http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/mx