How does a site get inscribed to the UNESCO world heritage site list?
Many a time, we wonder why a particular site is chosen over another in getting inscribed on the world heritage site list by UNESCO. UNESCO has a list of selection criteria which a site should satisfy before it can get into this hallowed list. However, it starts with a government proposing a site to this list. A government should thus make a commitment that it will work towards keeping up the maintenance of such a site. There are many factors which affect the selection of the site itself – unfortunately, politics plays a part too. However, the inclusion of a site into the list ensures the availability of funds from UNESCO for the upkeep and conservation of a site. Here are the primary criteria for selection into the world heritage criteria (proposed sites should meet at least one of them) –
- to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
- to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
- to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
- to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
- to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
- 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. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
- to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
- to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
- to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
- to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.