Today on International World Heritage Day we want to express our gratitude to the fire fighters of Notre Dame who risked their lives in order to save a priceless heritage for all of us. At the same time we would remind that there are hundreds and thousands of people around the world who give everything they have to protect and safeguard World Heritage sites at their places and who very seldom receive a word of gratitude or other support. We want to thank them all – the activists who protest against neglect and deliberate destruction, the rangers at national parks who shield wildlife from poachers with their own bodies, the private owners whose pride it is to give an example of heritage protection, and the uncounted citizens who volunteer to maintain places and whose small donations mean more of a sacrifice to them than big amounts to some others.
As civil war is intensifying in Libya, more World Heritage sites may get lost forever. Please support the brave men and women in the neighbourhood of Libyan World Heritage sites who guard those sites from being pillaged and destroyed by invading militias. They risk their lives as much as the fire fighters of Notre Dame, and they deserve to be recognized as much.
Please donate with earmark “Libya” (in the US through our fiscal sponsor www.globalheritagefund.org) .
Together with the French people and the world
we mourn the loss of a priceless creation of human genius and a world heritage. The many expressions of grief we have received from people all around the world show us that Notre Dame actually is a common heritage of mankind not only on paper but one which is shared in the hearts of the people.
The tragic fire and the irreplaceable loss should remind us all how fragile our heritage is, and especially those who feel that one can compromise it for short-term interests should now think twice. We will all remain with a deep sense of loss and tragedy, and I am sure that those in Europe now will have a better sense of understanding what it means to the people when cultural heritage is destroyed in places more far from us.
May this moment, which will be remembered in history, be a call to the world to increase our efforts for the protection and safeguarding of our common heritage.
The President and Board of World Heritage Watch
World Heritage Watch is an independent non-governmental organization founded in 2014. We promote the preservation of UNESCO World Heritage worldwide. We watch that World Heritage is protected and maintained, and not sacrificed to political compromises and economic interests.
We support UNESCO in obtaining complete and accurate information about the situation of World Heritage sites. And we help local people to protect their sites and to derive an adequate benefit from them.
The sites that have been added to the list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage are the world’s most valuable monuments, the most significant historical cities, the most beautiful landscapes and the most breathtaking ecosystems and natural wonders. Because they are the most significant places on the planet to learn about people and nature, the community of nations has decided to protect them by binding international law.
However, a growing number of world heritage sites are endangered by development pressure, mass tourism, armed conflict, resource extraction, climate change, or construction activities, and by neglect and poor management. Recognition has grown that the more than 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites cannot be monitored and protected in the long run without the active involvement of civil society.