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Where UNESCO World Heritage Is In Danger


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Katharina Buchholz


A look at the current list of cultural World Heritage sites in danger shows that most are located in war zones and unstable states, like Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Venezuela, Libya, Mali and Ukraine. The latter in 2023 saw sites added in three cities - Lviv, Kiev and Odessa - as the Russian invasion is endangering the country's cultural heritage. Other World Heritage monuments are threatened by construction projects, like historic sites in Egypt and Uzbekistan as well as the Vienna historic center, where UNESCO is taking issue with the construction of a large new hotel. Increased development in the city was also the reason why Liverpool in the UK lost its World Heritage status in 2021.


Venice would have been the only cultural heritage entry on the "In Danger" list where climate change is having a significant impact, but UNESCO in the end did not adopt a draft that would have placed the historic city and its lagoon on it. Two more cultural sites in Turkey and Bulgaria were suggested for the list but not added eventually. Among the sites receiving grave warnings were the historic cities of Budapest, Hungary, and Zanzibar, Tanzania, as well as the Australian Great Barrier Reef and the UK's Stonehenge, where construction is once again the culprit.


The World Heritage Convention in a document released July 31 points out that Venice’s seawall against rising water levels and floods had not been finalized, that the ban on large cruise ships was not yet fully enforced and that some sites proposed for new cruise terminals might be just as questionable from a conservation standpoint. The city was also urged to find models to reduce its exceptionally high number of visitors, something that could be achieved with a new system of ticketing and entry fees to the city - the introduction of which has repeatedly been delayed, however. In the end, committee members were swayed by the idea that changes were about to be implemented, even though this has been the status quo for a while.


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