The 18th of April 2018 will mark the celebration of World Heritage Day, a day that will hopefully make us take note of mankind and the planet’s contribution to this social experience we call life. The very notion of World Heritage Day, that of celebrating culture and destinations deemed so by various sites around the world, through educational, scientific, physical or cultural significance, is a multicultural celebration. It shows us that the earth is one place and we as its citizens are one race – the human race. We’ve made the land our own and we’ve cultivated it in such ways that we’ve added to the landscape, and at the same time the landscape has born its own unique features.
Back in 1983 When it All Started…
We haven’t always celebrated the world and our cultural contributions collectively. World Heritage Day was initially proposed in 1982 by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) in Tunisia. Eventually the idea was backed by the UNESCO General Conference, which passed a resolution in November 1983 that member states consider the possibility of April 18th as the official declaration of International Monuments and Sites Day. This day became World Heritage Day.
The Hand of Man
As a species, we humans have really left a handprint on planet earth. We haven’t always left a great impression, but if history has taught us something and if these structures and monuments, excluding the naturally occurring ones, are anything to go by, it’s that we have created beauty and splendour. The hand of man is all over the earth and it’s deeply entrenched – literally! The Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Petra in Jordan, The Forbidden City, all monuments of exceptional engineering that have endured hundreds and even thousands of years to still be with us today. It’s not just a testimony to the ability of mankind, but also a friendly reminder not to let modern technology lull us into thinking that we’re at the top of our game.
The Hand of God
Nature continues to serve as the ultimate show of beauty. We might have forgotten this, especially those of us who choose to be city dwellers, but the earth still reminds us of its grace and elegance through its naturally occurring magnificence. The Rocky Mountains in Canada, Table Mountain in South Africa, Lake Bled in Slovenia, Mount Fuji in Japan, and The Great Barrier Reef in Australia make up for just a handful of the earth’s contributions that we as a species have been able to enjoy and admire in awe.
A Cause for Celebrating
Taking into account what’s been said thus far, and it’s not even a lot, one can see why World Heritage Day is one of incredible importance. Amid so much darkness, we need to acknowledge the light of the world and in recent times it seems more important than ever. We’ve got more than enough greed, corruption, hate and war to make sure we’re not coming back if we don’t stop to change our ways. Celebrating what we had and what we still have is of paramount importance because it opens up discourse and creates awareness.
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How to Celebrate World Heritage Day
All in all, there are 1052 heritage sites around the world. Of that vast sum, 814 are cultural, 203 are of the earth and 35 are a combination of both. There are many ways to celebrate World Heritage Day, and to create awareness and draw attention to all applicable sites and locations. ICOMOS has recommended the following methods:
- Free admission to sites, monuments and ones of recent restoration
- The use of television and radio broadcasts, as well as magazine and newspaper articles
- Calling attention to the day by way of banners in key population density spots, like town squares and traffic arteries
- Inviting celebs/personalities and local and foreign specialists to give talks, conferences and interviews
- Utilising public spaces, such as community halls and centres for discussions
- Organising public exhibitions
- Publishing stamps, postcards, books and websites
- Handing out awards to individuals and/or groups that have created the most awareness around these sites through publications and other applicable means
- Bring attention to a recently restored monument by means of an inauguration
- Instil skills in schools and the youth for awareness raising activities
- Getting organisations to collaborate on publications
May your 18th of April 2018 be an enjoyable one, and one that puts you in touch with your country’s history and beauty, and, in turn, that of the world.