World Heritage Watch Report 2024: Can UNESCO Still Protect the World Heritage?

2024.06 WHW Report 2024 cover pageOn June 1, 2024, World Heritage Watch a non-governmental organization that closely monitors the condition of natural and cultural sites included in the World Heritage List and the Tentative List, announced the release of the next report (1).

«Today, the non-governmental organization World Heritage Watch presents its tenth annual report on threats to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It contains 55 contributions from all continents on cultural monuments, historic city centers, cultural landscapes and nature reserves, including several with indigenous populations.

Every year, the World Heritage Watch Report highlights the state of humanity’s common heritage. It is submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the Member States of the International Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Natural and Cultural Heritage (“World Heritage Convention”) to help them make a more comprehensive assessment of the threats and take more appropriate decisions to address them».

Global trends are not encouraging. In many countries, «local communities have been waiting for years for more decisive action from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, for example in Stonehenge, Diyarbakir, St. Petersburg and the Acropolis of Athens. Frustration is growing that this body, made up of diplomats, gives priority to political interests rather than to the protection of heritage. In Venice, at Lake Ohrid, but also on the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, people have almost lost hope that the UNESCO World Heritage Convention can deliver on its promise to protect the sites under their tutelage».

There is also positive news. «Last year, President Biden declared nearly 1 million acres (404,685.642 ha) adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park a national monument, not only prohibiting further uranium mining, but also protecting sacred sites of several indigenous nations».

2023.10.06 Аксай 4472Two publications in the report are dedicated to Kazakhstan. The Ecological Society Green Salvation prepared the material «Legal obstacles to the implementation of the World Heritage Convention in the Republic of Kazakhstan». It highlights the situation in the Ile-Alatau National Park, which was included in the Tentative List for inscription on the World Heritage List back in 2002. Another material, «Imminent threats to the Western Tien Shan in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan», talks about threats to the transboundary World Heritage site The Western Tien Shan, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2016.

The main threats to World Heritage sites in Kazakhstan remain the same. This is the inconsistency of many norms of national legislation with the norms of the Convention, poor implementation of its requirements by government and business structures, economic development of specially protected natural areas, overtourism, and depletion of water resources, urbanization, and ineffective management.

We invite interested readers to familiarize themselves with the important and informative materials of the report.


1. WHW –