The extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee reflects UNESCO’s Global Priority Africa and strives to enhance the representativeness and balance of World Heritage
Reported by Zhao Xuetong
Fuzhou, July 20 (Xinhua News Agency). On July 19th, the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, reviewed the African item on the List of World Heritage in Danger and decided to remove Salonga National Park, a world natural heritage site of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from the list. On the same day, a side event was held under the theme of “Capacity Building for World Heritage Conservation and Management: Towards Future Cooperation Between Africa and China”.
His Excellency Mr. Tian Xuejun, Vice Minister of Education, Chairperson of the National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO, and Chairperson of the extended 44th Session of World Heritage Committee, noted that the session strived to promote “Priority Africa” in policy formulation, capacity building, international assistance and upstream procedures, in a bid to enhance the representativeness of World Heritage and improve balance.
During the review of the session, the states parties highly affirmed the effectiveness and progress of the Salonga National Park in eliminating the threat of war and illegal hunting, unanimously agreeing to remove the item from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It is reported that Salonga National Park is located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the central basin of the Congo river. Inscribed in 1984 on the World Heritage List and 1999 in the List of World Heritage in Danger, it has many endemic endangered species, such as the bonobo, the Congo peacock, the rainforest elephant, etc.
Mr. Tian Xuejun emphasized at the side event on “Capacity Building for World Heritage Conservation and Management: Towards Future Cooperation Between Africa and China” that both implementing UNESCO’s Global Priority Africa resolution and highlighting the status and role of African countries in the conservation of World Heritage required redoubled efforts and more strength. China will further support African countries’ World Heritage conservation, support talent training in developing countries, and implement a training program in World Heritage conservation.
According to Souayibou Varissou, Executive Director of the African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), there are still 12 countries in Africa with zero world heritage site, and 22 of the 53 World Heritage sites in danger are in Africa. He called for increased funding for the African World Heritage Fund to enhance the protection of Africa’s World Heritage.
As stated by Dr. Mechtild RÖSSLER, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Africa urgently needs to strengthen capacity building in terms of World Heritage application, management and monitoring. He thanked China for its tremendous efforts in protecting African World Heritage through the platform of UNESCO and expected China and Africa to achieve more new cooperation results in the field of World Heritage protection.