Protecting the Wonders of the World
Francesco Bandarin, the director of the World Heritage Center, , insists it does. The List is part of a convention adopted by UNESCO in 1972 meant"to recognize and protect the world's most significant cultural and natural sites," he says."Over the last 36 years, the Committee and UNESCO have continued to work in line with its original mission." The benefits of getting on the list, he says, include increased visibility, more funding, and access to UNESCO's"knowledge and experience." Including private donations, the WHC has an annual budget of about $20 million; most countries are expected to implement and fund their own protection plans. The mere designation as a World Heritage site, of course, can be a boon: when the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, was accorded World Heritage Status in 1986, says Stuart Smith, a former director of the museum there,"People suddenly realized they were living in an incredible site. They started to appreciate it and respect it."
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