In the previous installment of this series, we wrote about UNESCO‘s New World Heritage Sites in Danger. Part of UNESCO’s charter is to preserve natural, cultural and historic sites around the world in order for citizens of all countries to be able to visit, enjoy, and learn from them. Individually, many of these sites combine several elements of cultural heritage criteria, ranging from majestic natural beauty to important architectural and artistic history. These irreplaceable sites represent multi-dimensional and direct links to our past and should be preserved at all costs.
Even though the preservation of important natural, cultural and historic sites seems challenging, there are plenty of things that private citizens and organizations can do to help.
1. Partner: You or your organization can become a UNESCO partner and get involved in conservation activities, world heritage promotion, mobilization of resources and financial support. The World Heritage Center has partnered with various international organizations, national institutions, privacy corporations and non-profits over the years
2. Volunteer: Join the UNESCO interning or volunteering programs. The UNESCO accepts students from a wide range of disciplines for strategic activities or to perform administrative or technical functions. No experience is necessary for most volunteer projects, which can range from patrolling the shores of the Galapagos and excavating dinosaurs in Argentina to studying lake ecosystems in Siberia and restoring archaeological sites in Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
3. Travel: Even if you choose not to join UNESCO, you can practice sustainable tourism by respecting local culture and customs and not damaging sites or littering when visiting. It is important to continue to visit sites, even endangered ones (assuming that there is no immediate physical threat to visitors, such as warfare or violent crime), so as to contribute to the local economy and to draw attention to the constant need for repair and renovation.
4. Spread Awareness: You can help by creating an awareness of the importance of preserving these invaluable sites by sharing news and links through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
5. Donate: Lastly, monetary donations are the most direct way to support UNESCO and its projects.
As quoted on UNESCO’s World Heritage site, we can work together to “encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world’s cultural and natural heritage” to preserve our world for ourselves and future generations.