Richard Mackay at the World Heritage Committee


Prof Richard Mackay recently returned from an influential role as ICOMOS cultural heritage as adviser during the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee, held in Bonn, Germany.

While much of the focus during World Heritage Committee sessions is on the World Heritage List, part of each session involves reporting and discussions about the ‘State of Conservation’ of properties which are on the List of ‘World Heritage in Danger’ or other properties whose ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ may be under threat. (Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was one of the properties considered during the State of Conservation discussions at this Session).

A major part of the 39th Session was devoted to consideration of World Heritage properties in conflict zones, particularly in the Middle East. During this Session, Richard Mackay provided advice about threats to World Heritage properties in Iraqi as a result of ISIL occupation, as well as the civil conflict and destruction that is occurring in Yemen. The ancient site of Hatra in Iraqi and the Old City of Sana’a and the City of Shibam in Yemen were both inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

There was also substantial discussion about the devastating earthquake which has wreaked havoc on the World Heritage property of Kathmandu, in Nepal. The global community were united in expressing great sympathy and extending offers practical support in response to this tragedy.

The final days of the session were spent considering places which had been nominated to the World Heritage List. 24 properties were inscribed, including the French landscapes of Burgundy and Champagne, the Aqueduct of Padre in Mexico, Ephesus in Turkey, the Meiji Sites of Japan’s Industrial Revolution, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens and the Birthplace of Jesus in Jordan.

For Richard, it was a huge challenge to process vast amounts of information and provide effective, expert advice in a timely manner, but also a huge privilege to make such a profound contribution to the conservation of our common heritage.

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