Culture and nature

World Heritage

1,092 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 167 countries worldwide make the history of mankind and of the planet tangible. 44 of them are located in Germany. World Heritage Sites are witnesses of past cultures, artistic masterpieces and unique natural landscapes.

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is based on the principle of international solidarity aimed at protecting and conserving heritage of outstanding universal value. The underlying idea of the convention is the realization that there are certain cultural and natural sites in the world that are unique and therefore deserve special protection as heritage of mankind. These sites need to be identified, listed and protected through international cooperation. In the broader framework of UNESCO's objectives, the World Heritage Convention serves as one of UNESCO's normative tools in the cultural sector, seeking to foster cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace. In this context, transboundary sites are of particular importance, as they encourage direct cooperation between states.

Since the adoption of the convention in 1972, more than a thousand sites around the world have been inscribed on the World Heritage List.

In addition to the national stakeholders, a certain number of international players are involved in the process of identifying, nominating, protecting, conserving and monitoring the inscribed sites. The governing body is the World Heritage Committee. During its annual meetings, it decides on new inscriptions on the World Heritage list, discusses the state of conservation of World Heritage sites and makes recommendations concerning the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in general.

Since 1994, the Global Strategy for a Representative, Balanced and Credible World Heritage List has been crucial for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention. This strategy addresses geographical and typological imbalances of the World Heritage List and stands for a broad concept of heritage encompassing, inter alia, the co-existence of man and nature, spiritual aspects and intangible values. In 2002, the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention agreed on four strategic objectives (Budapest Declaration), which were expanded by a further objective in 2007. These goals, now referred to as the “Five Cs”, are Credibility, Conservation, Capacity-Building, Communication and Community Involvement.

World Heritage in Germany

Weimar, home to artists, musicians and writers such as Goethe and Schiller; the preserved fossils of the Eocene Epoch in the Messel Pit Fossil Site; the spectacular natural scenery of the Ancient Beech Forests, which exemplifies the spread of beech across Central Europe and is home to more than 10,000 species – Germany's cultural and natural landscape is diverse and rich.

World Heritage in Germany

World Heritage in Danger

The Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Ancient City of Aleppo in the Syrian Arab Republic and the Historic Centre of Vienna in Austria. Armed conflicts, climate change, natural disasters and large construction projects threaten a large number of World Heritage sites around the globe.

World Heritage in Danger

World Heritage and Sustainability

Sustainable development, “that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Report), is of increasing importance for the global community.

World Heritage and Sustainability

Communicating World Heritage

The German Commission for UNESCO seeks to encourage and work with World Heritages sites and other stakeholders in Germany in the field of World Heritage communication and education. continue reading

Additional article

World Heritage Trainee Programme
Vermittlungsarbeit im Muskauer Park

Our Contribution

World Heritage Trainee Programme

Based on the conviction that the long-term preservation of our common heritage can only be achieved by sensitizing and empowering young generations, the German UNESCO Commission seeks to promote young peoples’ civic engagement in the protection and communication of World Heritage.
read more
Young Experts dedicated to Syria's Cultural Heritage
Syrien, Altstadt von Aleppo

Our Contribution

Young Experts dedicated to Syria's Cultural Heritage

23 young experts from six countries work together to safeguard and preserve the cultural heritage of Syria.
read more