Monday, January 21, 2008

UK Seminar on Scientific World Heritage Sites

A three-day international workshop, designed to develop guidelines to identify future World Heritage Sites which represent advances in science and technology of global significance, will be hosted next week by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the UK National Commission for UNESCO on behalf of the World Heritage Committee.

The workshop, taking place from 21-23 January, brings together experts from 15 countries, representing the physical sciences and technology as well as those with detailed knowledge of the operation of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.

The delegates will discuss ways to create a scientific framework, to help identify and recognize sites which represent the heritage of science and technology that could potentially become World Heritage Sites. The conclusions of the expert meeting will be presented to the World Heritage Committee for consideration at their next meeting this July in Quebec, Canada.

1. The program for the workshop can be found on the UK National Commission for UNESCO website at
2. There will be particular focus on four areas: astronomy, physical sciences, biological sciences and engineering and technology.
3. This workshop was organized at the UK's suggestion during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee, held last July in Christchurch, New Zealand.
4. The outcome of this meeting will contribute to the development of guidelines for the identification of sites and a preliminary framework for the evaluation of properties of interest for the heritage of science and technology and their potential inscription on the World Heritage List. The recommendations of the Workshop will be submitted to the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee. This session will be held from 2-10 July in Quebec, Canada.
5. The concept of World Heritage Sites is at the core of the World Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, to which 184 nations belong. The Convention required the establishment of the World Heritage List, under the management of an inter-governmental World Heritage Committee, as a means of recognizing that some places, both natural and cultural, are of sufficient importance to be the responsibility of the international community as a whole. The UK ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1984.
Editorial Comment: Given American leadership during much of the last century in science and technology, I would think that the United States might proudly claim a number of such world heritage sites. How about Cape Canaveral, Edison's laboratory, the sites of the American System of Manufacturing, the University of Chicago site of the first nuclear reactor, a site linked to the invention of the Internet, etc. JAD

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