by Valeska Oudhof
The World Heritage Marine Programme of UNESCO celebrates 50 unique sites recognized as Marine World Heritage. Since the inscription of the first marine site on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981, the network has grown into a global collection of unique ocean places stretching from the tropics to the poles. Today, the List includes 50 unique ocean places across 37 countries – recognized for their unique marine biodiversity, singular ecosystem, unique geological processes, or incomparable beauty.
The World Heritage nature sites are the crown jewels within the present global protected area network. They ensure evaluations on how countries protect their most important and unique natural areas. The recognition of such places is based on information gathered through field missions and scientific research. Best practices and solutions are shared among the network of the UNESCO marine sites. By building resilience by reducing on-site pressures and empowering local communities, holistic climate adaptation strategies can also be developed, and the impacts of climate change can be assessed.
The distinction of 50 such unique marine areas is a significant milestone in the context of the 30×30 Goal of protecting 30% of the global seas (and terrestrial) space by 2030.
Coincidentally LT&C can celebrate this year the surpassing of the 50-mark, with currently 52 LT&C Examples, whereby four of them are related to marine World Heritage sites, three in the Wadden Sea, and one to the Galapagos Islands.
May the two 50th celebrations encourage creating more examples of tourism support with finances or by political or educational engagement for existing and further World Heritage sites. Let’s strive together to reach the following milestones within the 30×30 marathon.