Sunday, May 27, 2007

Meet the Friends of the World Heritage

Whether your quest is to understand ancient civilizations, you’re passionate about unique coral formations in tropical waters, or you're an avid traveler determined to satisfy your wanderlust, Friends of World Heritage provides a way to learn and explore more about the world around you.The mission of Friends of World Heritage is to foster a constituency of World Heritage supporters and travelers to ensure the protection of World Heritage sites for today’s travelers and future generations. Expedia, Inc., UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, and the UN Foundation are working together to support this mission.How Friends of World Heritage WorksFriends of World Heritage is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protecting World Heritage, promoting sustainable development, and offering ways to explore these sites through sustainable travel. There are many ways you can become involved. We encourage people to: — become active and talk about the importance of World Heritage; — volunteer in conservation activities at World Heritage sites— travel to the sites to support local economic development— sign up to become a Friend; and,— contribute to the Friends of World Heritage Fund. 100% of the resources raised through the Friends of World Heritage Fund will go to World Heritage projects and priorities where resources are scarce. Furthermore, contributions from individuals may be matched twice over by Expedia, Inc. and the UN Foundation (up to a total of $50,000 each), turning every $1 into $3. Friends of World Heritage also welcomes and accepts corporate, foundation and other donations. Friends of World Heritage’s founding partners – Expedia, Inc, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, and the UN Foundation – jointly allocate the Fund, identifying projects that support local tourism enterprises that can help alleviate poverty and conserve World Heritage sites. Projects that benefit from Friends of World Heritage support will be profiled on the web site so you can learn more about the impact of your contribution.

What Is World Heritage?
World Heritage sites are places around the world that have been internationally recognized for their outstanding value as natural and cultural treasures. Sites currently on the World Heritage List include Independence Hall, Stonehenge, the Galapagos Islands, the parks, forests and wildlife reserves of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the historic Centre of Prague, the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China.

All sites are protected by the 1972 World Heritage Convention, signed to date by 180 countries and administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), making it one of the most universal international legal instruments for the protection of cultural and natural heritage. While fully respecting the national sovereignty, the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention recognize that the protection of our World Heritage is the duty of the international community as a whole. There are currently 830 World Heritage sites (644 cultural, 162 natural and 24 mixed properties in 138 States Parties) in 138 countries.

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