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Every year 18th April is celebrated as ‘International Day for Monuments and Sites’ which is also called as ‘World Heritage Day’ with different types of activities including visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round tables and newspaper articles. Purpose of celebrating ‘World heritage Day’ is to raise public awareness on importance of diversity of cultural heritage and preserving these heritage for the generations ahead and the efforts required to protect and conserve it. Ancient monuments & sites are an asset to us that help us understand our history and the root of our culture for generations to come.
History of World Heritage Day
The International Council for Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) is a non-governmental organization that works on preserving and conserving heritage sites worldwide. On April 18,1982, The International Council for Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) had organized a symposium and put forth a proposal for a worldwide celebration of ‘International day for Monuments and Sites’. This was later approved by UNESCO General Conference in it’s 22nd session on November 1983 declaring 18th April as’ International day for Monuments and Sites’. As a result hundreds of experts from different field like architects, geographers, engineers, archaeologists etc. saw the need to protect these heritage locations and came forward to help in restoring these monuments and celebrating world heritage day monuments.
Objective of World Heritage Day 2022
UNESCO defines a World Heritage site as a “natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and space which requires special protection”. The main objective of celebrating world heritage day 2022 by UNESCO is to preserve the heritage of the three categories i.e, natural, cultural and mixed for the next generation and put its relevant efforts in front of the world. Today, there are a grand total of 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites worldwide, of which 869 are cultural, 213 are natural and 39 are a mixture. 53 of these are in danger. India has a total of 35 world heritage sites, of which 27 are cultural,7 natural & one mixed site.
Theme of World Heritage Day 2022
Every Year ICOMOS proposes a theme for celebrating the ‘World Heritage Day’. The theme for World Heritage Day 2022 is: “Heritage and Climate“.
World Heritage Day Previous Year Theme
The theme for 2019 World Heritage Day was ‘Rural landscapes’.
The theme for World Heritage Day for the year 2020 was ‘Shared Culture’, ‘Shared heritage’ and ‘Shared responsibility’
World Heritage Day 2022 Quotes
- “Preserve cultural heritage, it defines the national identity of a country”.
- “Monuments and heritage sites are the rich essence of diversity and reflection of our culture”.
- “World heritage day aims to identify the beauty of monuments and preserves their identity from the roots”.
- “A rich cultural heritage depends on the ability of people to maintain their distinctiveness and unique identities”.
- “Monuments are for the living, not the dead. Preserve them, love them and pass it on to generations to understand their importance.”
- “What you abandon isn’t what is engraved in stone monuments, however what is woven into the lives of others. Monuments have lives woven into them.”
- “Sometimes it is impossible to know where you are headed without reflecting on where you came from. Understanding your heritage, your roots and your ancestry is an important part of carving out your future.”
- “A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.” – Steve Berry
- “Maintaining one’s culture, values and traditions is beyond price. “– Getano Lui, jnr
- “There is no greater wealth than wisdom, no greater poverty than ignorance; no greater heritage than culture and no greater support than consultaion” –Ali Ibn Abu Talib
- “My culture is my identity and personality. It gives me spiritual, intellectual and emotional distinction from others, and I am proud of it” – M.F. Moonzajer
- “Tourism carries tremendous potential that must be acknowledged as essential for the futures of world heritage. But without proper management, we can easily get out of control.” – Bonnie Burnham
- “Culture is a way of thinking, a set of values, a belief system that influences our behaviour. It’s really a combination of things. It can come from our ethnic background, our religion and society as a whole.” – Frank Olivas
- There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here or there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.” – Richard Moe
How is World Heritage Day Celebrated
Because of the current global health crisis due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the containment measures in different countries around the world, ICOMOS encourages you to celebrate the ‘International Day for Monuments and Sites’ by following instructions from local and national authorities so as to ensure the safety of participants. ICOMOS invites you to celebrate 18th April World Heritage Day Shared Cultures, Shared Heritage, and Shared Responsibility theme, with the aim of raising awareness of its values and conservation virtually. Possible activities include virtual conferences and round tables, webinars, online lectures, poster presentations, live streamed interviews, press releases, round tables, visits to heritage properties, heritage walks, social media campaigns, etc. You can also take part in this event by –
- Posting photos and information on shared cultures and heritage of your country, and also associated heritage or practices, including short slideshows or videos (within 30 seconds)and posters on world heritage day. Make sure to include descriptions, quotes or facts to accompany any image, as well as hashtags.
- Uploading images connected to the theme, and associated heritage or practices, to the ICOMOS photo bank (if you do not already have one, you first need to create an account to do so). In all cases, please make sure that you detain the rights to any images you post.
- Sharing virtual tours and videos of heritage places through social media. Check out Google Arts & Culture, which provides free, virtual access to a number of cultural heritage sites worldwide.
- Sharing a story about your community’s connections to heritage, your cultural traditions, or what it means to share responsibility for conserving cultural and natural heritage. Don’t forget to use images and hashtags.
What you can do to help?
Preservation and restoration of important natural, cultural and historic sites is a challenging task. We as responsible citizens must do our bit in preserving these heritage sites . We must keep our heritage alive so that generation to come can experience and understand it. We can do the following to take part in preserving these heritage sites-
- You or your organization can get involved in conservation activities, world heritage promotion, mobilization of resources and financial support by partnering with UNESCO .
- Join the UNESCO interning or volunteering programs.
- You can practice sustainable tourism by respecting local culture and customs.
- Do not damage sites by littering, writing on walls etc. when visiting.
- 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.