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| 5. World Heritage in Danger

The preservation and enhancement of World Heritage is a vital need for all peoples. And we should all be aware of this need, as World Heritage has Outstanding Universal Value.

In recent centuries, humanity has lost great examples of its World Heritage for various reasons: armed conflicts, terrorism, global warming, lack of resources and care, industrialization, pollution, ignorance, indifference...

UNESCO works so that people know and take care of the heritage of humanity. To help publicize and preserve the World Heritage, there is a list of the “wonders of the world”. Currently, there are 1,121 properties on the list, of which 869 are cultural properties; 213 natural; 39 mixed, that is, they have significant natural and cultural value; and another 36 transnationals, that is, cultural, natural or mixed assets found in more than one State.

The World Heritage Committee publishes, whenever circumstances require, the "List of World Heritage in Danger". Only cultural and natural heritage assets that are threatened by serious and precise dangers, such as the threat of disappearance due to accelerated deterioration, or large public or private works projects, rapid urban and tourist development, destruction, abandonment, may appear on this list. , armed conflict, catastrophes and cataclysms, fires, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, changes in water levels, floods and tsunamis.

Of the 1,121 properties, 53 are on the World Heritage in Danger list. 36 are cultural properties and 17 are natural.

The region in the world with the highest number of assets threatened with extinction is the Arab States, which hold 40% of the total, specifically 21 cultural assets. Some examples are the Old City of Damascus, inscribed on the World Heritage in Danger list since 2013. The Syrian Arab Republic has 6 cultural properties and all of them are in danger.


The same happens with Libya. The 5 World Heritage cultural properties it owns are in danger. We highlight the archaeological site of Cyrene, one of the main cities in the Greek world, in danger since 2016.

After the Arab States comes Africa, with 30% of all assets in danger, including 4 cultural and 12 natural. We highlight the Okapis Fauna Reserve, where primate species, endangered birds and 5,000 okapis, a mammal of the same family as the giraffe, live. This reserve, in danger since 1997, is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose 5 natural assets are in danger.

Then come Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, with 11% of the world's assets at risk each.
In Asia and the Pacific there are 4 cultural and 2 natural properties. Examples of these assets would be the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, in danger since 2003, and the Natural Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia's rainforests, in danger since 2011.

Latin America and the Caribbean also have 4 cultural and 2 natural properties on the list of World Heritage in Danger. We highlight the city of Potosí, Bolivia, in danger since 2014, and the Plátano River Biosphere Reserve, in Honduras, one of the few remnants of tropical rainforest in Central America, on the list of World Heritage in danger since 2011.

Finally, Europe and North America have 3 cultural and 1 natural assets on this list, specifically 8% of the total of all assets at risk. Examples would be the Historic Center of Vienna, Austria, in danger since 2017 and the Everglades National Park, in the United States, on the list since 2010.

Inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger is not a sanction, as it often serves to attract international attention and obtain effective assistance for specific conservation needs.

If a site loses the characteristics for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List, the Committee may decide to remove it from either the List of World Heritage in Danger or the List of World Heritage. So far, two properties have been excluded: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, in 2007; and the cultural landscape of the Elbe Valley in Dresden, Germany, deleted in 2009.

Together we must conserve those goods that have Outstanding Universal Value and are an intrinsic part of world civilization.

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