WORLD HERITAGE No. 54
Cover: Persepolis, Iran, one of the ancient knowledge centres on astronomy.
his year, designated International Year of Astronomy 2009 by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, marks both the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first astronomical use of a telescope. This issue is consequently largely dedicated to the astronomical and scientific aspects of World Heritage and it also carries a tribute to Darwin. Two important aspects of astronomy connect with the concept of World Heritage. One of these touches upon the preservation of important sites, monuments or landscapes that attest to the observation of the starry skies by all civilizations worldwide and through the ages. A number of these sites are covered in this issue. As pointed out in the ‘Astronomy and World Heritage’ article, several World Heritage sites, such as Stonehenge, Newgrange and Xochicalco, attest to early human awareness of the regular movement of the Sun, moon and stars but they did not necessarily serve as observatories. The observatories at Greenwich or Saint Petersburg, on the other hand, were obviously conceived for this purpose, as was the 14th-century Observatory of Ulugh-Beg in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) or the 18th-century Jantar Mantar Observatories of India, which assemble some of the most unusual astronomical instruments every created in architectural form. The other connection between astronomy and World Heritage is perhaps more unexpected: it concerns the very possibility of present-day Earth-dwellers actually seeing the stars. We have admired the spectacle of the night skies, speculated, dreamed and fantasized about them for thousands of years. We have guided ships and caravans by the stars and identified them with our divinities. Yet today, for the first time in human history, even as the first explorers of space sail far above our atmosphere and space probes nudge the planets and their moons, the stars can no longer be seen from our cities. With this in mind, the Starlight Initiative seeks the creation of Starlight Reserves in various parts of the world and is pushing for the development of ‘intelligent lighting’ in the great cities. And while UNESCO cannot put the whole star-studded universe on the World Heritage List, to be sure, it can and does support initiatives such as these and is ready to associate them with listed sites and landscapes. Scientific and technological sites testify to humanity’s search for understanding and improving life, and are currently under-represented on the World Heritage List. The importance of recognizing and preserving these sites for the instruction of generations to come is covered in the article on science and technology at World Heritage sites. We are also pleased to present in this issue the thirteen new sites added to the World Heritage List in June this year. With these eleven new cultural sites (among them the first properties inscribed in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and Kyrgyzstan), and two natural sites, the World Heritage List now includes 890 properties.
Francesco Bandarin Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre
Co nte nt s In Focus Quarterly magazine published jointly in English, French and Spanish, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris, France and Pressgroup Holdings Europe S.A., Valencia, Spain.
Astronomy and World Heritage
These ancient cultures confronted particular vision of the universe.
Vesna Vujicic-Lugassy Editors
Helen Aprile, Gina Doubleday, Michael Gibson Production Coordinator
From the Maya to the Inca and beyond
Francesco Bandarin Director, UNESCO World Heritage Centre Angus McGovern Pressgroup Holdings Europe S.A.
Astronomical heritage, or cultural heritage relating to the sky, recognizes the relationships between humanity and the cosmos.
In Focus Astronomy, science and technology
The heritage of Galileo
400th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first astronomical use of a telescope.
Teaching laboratories for positional astronomy: The Jantar Mantar Observatories of India 30 Jantar Mantar instruments bring basic astronomy to life.
Jason Oliver, Caroline Fort
Starlight Reserves and World Heritage: Scientific, cultural and environmental values 34
Caroline Lawrence (English), Brigitte Strauss (French), Luisa Futoransky (Spanish)
Enjoying an unpolluted night sky as an inalienable right of humankind.
ICCROM: Joseph King, ICOMOS: Regina Durighello, IUCN: Tim Badman, UNESCO World Heritage Centre: Giovanni Boccardi, Véronique Dauge, Guy Debonnet, Lazare Eloundou-Assomo, Anne Lemaistre, Kishore Rao, Mechtild Rössler, Nuria Sanz, UNESCO Publishing: Ian Denison
Astronomy and World Heritage Education at Suzhou 40 Educational activities were organized in line with the International Year of Astronomy 2009.
Recognizing science and technology at 44 World Heritage sites
Great advances in science and technology are recognized on the World Heritage List, through such sites as the Mountain Railways of India and Varberg Radio station.
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Peter Warren Cover
Photo: Oshin Zakarian/The World at Night Design: Recto Verso Editorial Staff
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The authors are responsible for the choice and the presentation of the facts contained in the articles and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Published by Pressgroup Holdings Europe S.A., Valencia, Spain. ISSN: 10204202. Printed in Spain © UNESCO – Pressgroup Holdings Europe S.A. 2009
2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
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Charles Darwin and the Galápagos: 52 The evolution of a legacy
New World Heritage sites 2009
A presentation of the 13 new World Heritage sites inscribed at the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee, Seville (Spain) in June 2009.
WORLD HERITAGE No. 54 Forum
Interview with Professor Alec Boksenberg, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, eminent astronomer and former Director of the United Kingdom Royal Observatories (Greenwich and Edinburgh), Professor of experimental astronomy at the University of Cambridge.
Astronomical and archaeoastronomical heritage: A shared thematic study for improved understanding.
First meeting of States Parties to Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention; MAB International Coordinating Council Meets.
Interview with Dr Gabriel López, Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation.
The Committee in Seville; Environment: the sky’s the limit; Towards improved heritage awareness in Maldives; New financing to conserve forests in Central Africa; The Arctic affected by climate change; Rapid Response Facility launched; The Silk Roads make progress; Climate change changes World Heritage.
Dresden no longer World Heritage; Walled City of Baku removed from Danger List; Preservation concerns at Mtskheta (Georgia); Addressing threats at Belize Barrier Reef Reserve; Colombia requests Danger Listing of Los Katíos National Park.
Youth in Seville; First UK UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit meets in Lyme Regis; Hanoi hosts international seminar on Historic Urban Landscapes; Two new episodes of the Patrimonito cartoon series; Learning site management; Sites of Conscience.
In Print and Online
101 UNESCO Publishing
Starlight Reserves and World Heritage: Scientific, cultural and environmental values Cipriano Marín, Co-ordinator of the Starlight Initiative and Francisco Sánchez, Director of the Canary Island Institute of Astrophysics (IAC)
Point 1 of the Declaration in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight, adopted in 2007 at La Palma (Canary Islands), states: ‘An unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights …’. This view highlights the fact that a so-far unscathed right is now in serious danger and that its degradation will lead to the irremediable loss or neglect of an extensive associated cultural, scientific, scenic and natural heritage. Tindaya Mountain, sacred geological landscape. (Fuerteventura, Spain). © Photograph by Miguel Díaz & Miguel Pizarro - Composition by Luis Mir
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In Focus World Heritage No. 54
The World Atlas of the Artificial Night Sky Brightness. © P. Cinzano, F. Falchi (University of Padova), C. D. Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder).
n 1994, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights for Future Generations (La Laguna Declaration) was imbued with a highly advanced sensitivity to this right when it recognized that: ‘Persons belonging to future generations have the right to an uncontaminated and undamaged Earth, including pure skies; they are entitled to its enjoyment as the ground of human history, of culture and social bonds that make each generation and individual a member of one human family.’
Starlight Reserves In this context, and with the idea of recognizing and identifying the legacy associated with the starlit sky, the proposal to develop a ‘Starlight Reserve’ concept as one of the additional recommendations to the Starlight Declaration has recently emerged with the support of the organizations that promoted the Declaration and the Starlight Scientific Committee, in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre through its thematic initiative, Astronomy and World Heritage. A Starlight Reserve is a site where a commitment to defend the night sky quality and access to starlight has been established. Its main function will be to preserve the quality of the night sky and its associated values. The concept of Starlight Reserves encompasses many dimensions, which are
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the countless windows of the Earth on to and UNESCO in 1992, an essential element the starlit sky. It goes further than mere of our civilization and culture is rapidly protection of the astronomical quality of becoming lost, and this loss will affect all the sites, aiming to recover and identify countries on Earth. the existing values relating to the night sky, including A Starlight Reserve is a site where those of landscape, a commitment to defend the nature, opportunities for night sky quality and access to science and, in general, the starlight has been established. associated tangible and intangible cultural heritage. The power of the cultural dimension The scientific and technological dimension is irrefutable. The interest in astronomy, also represents an essential part of heritage or simple contemplation of starry skies, legacy relating to the observation of has always had profound implications for the heavens. One of UNESCO’s initial philosophy, science, arts, culture and for the texts on declaring 2009 as International general conception of the universe in every Year of Astronomy, at its 2005 General community all over the world. Each place Conference, states: ‘The sky, our common has its own view of starlight handed down and universal heritage, is an integral part through generations: legends, folk tales, of the environment perceived by humanity. sacred landscapes, objects, monuments Humankind has always observed the sky and traditional festivals. either to interpret it or to understand the physical laws that govern the universe’. This ability to observe and interpret should be A world without stars associated with the astronomical sites and However, we find ourselves in the face observatories that have dotted the planet of a set of manifestations that are now throughout our history. They are the areas considered as endangered. Many of the that we could define as our windows on the present generation are the first in history knowledge of the universe’. who have grown up without any direct However, unlike ancient monuments and contact with the beauty of a starry sky, technological tools relating to astronomy, in an environment where these cultural whose heritage value can be clearly defined, references are falling into oblivion. As current astronomical observation does not declared by the International Astronomical enjoy appropriate recognition. Certain Union, the International Council for Science
Image of M51 Galaxy taken with the William Herschel Telescope at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain).
© Javier Méndez (ING) and Nik Szymanek
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Night sky over Kilauea crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park World Heritage site. © Wally Pacholka / AstroPics.com
ground-based observatories are windows of excellence for the observation of the universe, and they have provided the vast majority of our knowledge of astronomy. However, present technical requirements restrict suitable areas to very specific and limited locations offering good conditions for the development of advanced astronomy, and of optical and infrared astronomy in particular. The best astronomical sites are found at high altitudes, with little turbulence. This is the case of the west coasts of continents and oceanic islands. They are also located in areas with less air pollution and low aerosol content. With few exceptions, high mountain areas isolated from the temperature of the ocean and coastal mountains near to cold oceans with stable, subtropical anticyclone conditions are most suitable. We are talking about a few places on the planet with a unique combination of environmental and natural circumstances, well-conserved spaces with very little alteration to natural starlight. These are a limited resource that needs to be recognized and protected. Having reached this point, it is essential to remember that the World Heritage Convention refers to science in Articles 1 and 2. More specifically, in Article 2 it establishes that the following shall be considered as natural heritage: ‘natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas
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The experiences of evaluating nightscapes of outstanding universal value from the as a promotion of the starlit scenery at point of view of science, conservation or Arches National Park (United States), La natural beauty’. For this reason, it is hardly Palma (Spain) or Easter Island (Chile), surprising that in the development of the highlight the enormous potential of this thematic study Starlight Reserves and World new concept and the need to recover this Heritage the few places that can offer these dimension in the strategy of the Starlight very special spaces as relevant case studies Reserves. have been identified, and the possibility has arisen of analysing a serial nomination for them, Certain ground-based observatories for example in Hawaii, the are windows of excellence for the Canaries and northern Chile. observation of the universe, and Beyond the importance they have provided the vast majority of the scientific and cultural of our knowledge of astronomy. legacy relating to astronomy and star-light, there is a landscape dimension to the beauty and Darkness and nature quality of the night sky. It is curious to conservation see that when we talk about natural or We can make similar considerations about cultural landscapes of natural beauty, there the nocturnal aspect of nature conservation. are very few references to nightscapes, The experience accumulated in some dark and even less in the case of landscapes sky parks such as the Natural Heritage that have been declared World Heritage Programme of Torrance Barrens (Canada) properties. However, the light of stars and or the experience in emblematic places other heavenly bodies has always enriched for nature conservation such as Doñana terrestrial nature’s display as well as human (Spain) or Hortobágy (Hungary), force us habitat, creating reference landscapes to seriously consider the importance of traditionally perceived by people as an dark skies for conserving nature and the integral part of their natural and cultural exceptional values that certain spaces have heritage. Nevertheless, the nocturnal with regard to the night. dimension of skyscapes, in spite of their Darkness and natural night light are diversity and magnificence, are still the indispensable for the healthy functioning most hidden part of this type of landscape. of organisms and ecosystems. We tend to
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and UNESCO’s MAB Programme, provides two essential tools in relation to World Heritage properties. On the one hand, it defines the functions that certain places on the planet can fulfil for preserving outstanding values relating to starlight. On the other, it provides an efficient guide to what has been called intelligent lighting, that is, lighting that covers the real needs for artificial lighting without degrading the quality of the night sky as an essential part of the environment. The defence of the right to observe the stars and the preservation of the heritage associated with astronomy can also represent a new form of providing local communities with benefits. A whole new world of expectations for identifying responsible tourist destinations and products is opening up before our eyes, in an Aurora above Lake Tekapo and Mount John (New Zealand). enormous spectrum that encompasses such © Fraser Gunn diverse possibilities as watching starry skies, aurorae, eclipses, visits to forget that life goes on 24 hours a day and Science, technology, knowledge, astronomical observatories, that ecosystems have adapted themselves nature and heritage all converge sailing holidays featuring to the natural rhythms of the moon and navigation by the stars, in efforts to enhance the stars in the course of millions of years of some pilgrimage routes, or protection of our night sky. evolution. As over half of the creatures the innovative experiences living on this planet are nocturnal, any offered by desert tourism degradation in the quality of sky, by day at night. or by night, is having a profound effect on Mitigating light pollution The vision given by the Starlight Initiative their behaviour and on the equilibrium of takes on a special meaning in 2009, a year Hence the Starlight Reserve concept the biosphere. In addition, many diurnal that celebrates two emblematic events: the connects to the international movement species adjust their life cycle according to 400th anniversary of Galileo building his in favour of mitigating the effects of light the duration of the night. first telescope and the 150th anniversary pollution, which is understood as the However, compared with climate change, of Darwin’s publication of his work On introduction by humans, directly or indirectly, acid rain, exotic species, habitat destruction the Origin of Species. It is in this context, of artificial light into the environment. We are and other stresses, natural darkness and in which science, technology, knowledge, currently facing a growing abuse of artificial artificial light are often overlooked when nature, and the heritage of the star-studded lighting, whose impacts and consequences considering and protecting biodiversity and sky converge, that we try to also enhance have not been sufficiently evaluated. But our appreciation of the natural world. the protection of the night skies at existing what is certain is that the common factor of Light pollution, in particular, has been World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and these phenomena is the loss of the capacity shown to have a widespread negative other protected areas. An example is Lake to observe the stars and the destruction impact on many different species. Scientific Tekapo in New Zealand, which offers new of nightscapes, together with unnecessary evidence for this impact on migratory birds, opportunities in the diversity of our common impacts on people’s quality of life, waste of hatchling sea turtles and insects is striking, heritage. energy, habitat deterioration and negative because of the large-scale mortality that effects on wildlife. has occurred as a result of artificial night The Starlight Reserve Concept, written with lighting. Light pollution can confound the participation of over 100 international Further reading animal navigation (many species use the experts and developed in cooperation Starlight Reserve Concept, March 2009. horizon and stars for orientation), alter with the World Heritage Centre and other w w w . s t a r l i g h t 2 0 0 7. n e t / p d f / competitive interactions, mutualisms and organizations such as the International StarlightReserve.pdf reproductive behaviour, change the natural Astronomical Union, the Canary Islands Welch, D., Trzyna, T. and Lopoukhine, N. predator/prey relationship and even affect Institute of Astrophysics, the United Prologue by IUCN DSAG to the Report of animal physiology. Nations World Tourism Organization, the the Expert Meeting ‘Starlight Reserves and International Commission on Illumination World Heritage’, March 2009.
Forum Interview Interview
Interview with Professor Alec Boksenberg Interview with Professor Alec Boksenberg, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, eminent astronomer and former Director of the United Kingdom Royal Observatories (Greenwich and Edinburgh), Professor of experimental astronomy at the University of Cambridge.
World Heritage: Speaking as one of the international experts who participated in setting up the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative in 2004, how would you characterize the scientific heritage connected with astronomy? Alec Boksenberg: In the International Year of Astronomy this is certainly a topical question. Astronomy is an ancient and multidisciplinary field. Virtually every culture in the world had already established a relationship with the heavens, hundreds if not thousands of years ago. Astronomy’s broad appeal, whether in terms of its cultural interest (defining our place in the universe), its practical aims (navigation), or the hopeful art of the astrologer, is well recorded in history from ancient to modern times – and skyawareness, more generally, dates back to prehistory. Astronomy’s perceived role and purpose has continually developed over the ages. In all, astronomy is not to be viewed as a narrow field cultivated in isolation but as one that has contributed comprehensively to the advancement of society. Today, astronomy is mostly perceived as a scientific endeavour and the foundation of modern science. The need to explain the structure and phenomena they observed in the sky led Newton and Einstein to make their fundamental discoveries, and the universal relevance of these discoveries changed our understanding of science. Our knowledge in science has grown through studies pursued both in earthly laboratories and in the observation of physical phenomena in the sky. Within the frame of cosmic expansion that began with the big bang about 14 billion years ago, it is now possible literally to see that the structural formation of the galaxies of stars has been evolving over most of cosmic time. To gain understanding of the universe in space and time, astronomers need to apply the entire accumulated knowledge of the physical sciences. In turn, new discoveries continually push the borders of scientific knowledge. Alongside this are the engineering and technological challenges of producing ever more versatile and accurate instrumentation and detectors, and building ever larger and more precise telescope structures, both on the ground and orbiting in space, to receive radiation from the furthest and faintest objects in the sky. So now in direct response to your question, the objective of the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative is to acknowledge the intertwined cultural and scientific values of properties connected with astronomy. The efforts of civilizations through the ages demonstrating sky awareness and the will to understand or interpret what they see in the sky are often reflected in rock carvings, grand structures,
Prof. Alec Boksenberg.
architecture and other cultural representations. And the more direct scientific activity in astronomy is attested by the many significant observational instruments and observatories that have been built over the centuries and which remain as beacons of humankind’s search for fundamental knowledge about the universe.
The objective of the Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative is to acknowledge the intertwined cultural and scientific values of properties connected with astronomy. But it is also particularly important to recognize the natural dimension inherent to astronomical heritage – the preservation of the quality of the night sky itself through avoidance of overwhelming air pollution and extraneous light. While natural heritage sites are included in the World Heritage List, the upper hemisphere of our common heritage is all but forgotten. Although it is impossible to inscribe the sky itself on the World Heritage List, many sites could benefit from integrating the issue of light pollution into their management considerations. People now growing up in cities rarely get to see the extraordinarily endowed nocturnal ‘skyscape’ still accessible to astronomers at the remote mountain sites where major observatories are now located. Growing pollution in the 1950s caused the Royal Observatory at Greenwich to move its telescopic operations to Herstmonceux Castle under the then clearer sky in Sussex, and again in the 1980s to the Spanish internationalized Observatorio de Roque de los Muchachos on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, which belongs to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias. While action on this fundamental loss has been widely urged for a long time, an important recent initiative Starlight – a Common Heritage has been launched through an international conference in 2007 on La Palma (itself a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve) as a global campaign to defend the values associated with the night sky. At this ripe time in worldwide awareness of the unsustainable environmental track we all are taking, this is a powerful move to drive home this all-encompassing heritage issue.
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(WH): Taking into account the Committee’s Global Strategy for a Balanced, Representative and Credible World Heritage List and the outcome of the Expert Meeting on Science and Technology held in London in 2008, how do you see the selection of outstanding universal heritage sites in this field, in particular from Europe which counts the highest number of World Heritage properties? AB: The history of the development of science and its application through technology is as important as any other part of our heritage when it comes to understanding the nature of modern human existence. It might even be said that the pursuit of science is the only truly universal culture, universally understood and subject to the same mental and practical engagement everywhere on the globe. Indeed, science is a collective endeavour, a universal partnership, driven by a shared passion for progressive discovery and higher understanding to build a constantly developing legacy of knowledge common to all. Engineering and technology together provide the basis for carrying out practical experiments and observations as well as inventively fashioning the products for material advancement spawned by science. Technological heritage is often quite easy to recognize. Manifestations of mining, transport, agriculture systems, timekeeping, communication and power generation are just a few examples of this, and many such instances are already listed. There are also natural sites which from the point of view of science are outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, geological processes in the development of land forms, or other significant natural features. A good case is the inscribed Dorset and East Devon Coast in the UK with its important fossil sites and classic coastal geomorphological features, whose study has contributed to the development of Earth sciences for over 300 years, although no specific trace remains of all this scientific activity. But in many important areas in science it is often difficult to demonstrate outstanding universal value in adequately tangible form within the World Heritage Convention’s conditions of physical surviving features, authenticity and integrity. Much of science is about ideas and texts rarely linked with places in which relevant surviving features may be found. The natural sciences (physical sciences and chemistry, and biological sciences), are among the areas under-represented on the World Heritage List. An example I often use is specific recognition of Einstein’s pivotal efforts while employed in the Swiss Patent Office. Working in his spare time over just a few months in 1905, he produced a series of extraordinary papers containing theories that revolutionized scientific understanding and serve as the foundation for modern physics. But no related physical feature survives, and simple association of a property with an important individual is not sufficient grounds for inscription. More generally, too, the existence of laboratories, apparatus or other structures associated with scientific discoveries does not suffice, if such as do survive are of poor quality, have been altered, or are in continuing or evolving use. Astronomy, however, with its ancient artefacts and its historical progression to established observatories, provides a wide range of possibilities in its own field.
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The study of Dorset and East Devon Coast with its important fossil sites and classic coastal geomorphological features has contributed to the development of Earth sciences for over 300 years. If science heritage is to be better promoted, the Advisory Bodies will have to provide States Parties with more specific guidance on how science can be recognized for inscription on the World Heritage List. In Europe, because of the long history of linked and intensive activity across the region, there is potential for additional thematic frameworks and serial and transboundary nominations. (WH): The UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008 and International Year of Astronomy 2009 are two major events whose aims include awareness-raising about scientific heritage among young people – how can we keep up the momentum initiated by these events? AB: The International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) is a joint initiative by UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences and is actually running to December 2009. Its purpose is to raise worldwide public and political awareness of the vast potential of Earth sciences for improving the quality of life and safeguarding the planet for our children and grandchildren. In heritage terms this surely has the highest of credentials. In a societally relevant and multidisciplinary programme it fosters a wide variety of national as well as regional research and outreach activities.
With young people in mind, I think the best and most economical way of keeping up this momentum is for UNESCO to encourage and to publicize some of the important legacies of the IYPE. There are many avenues through which this can be done. One is the Young Earth Scientist Congress programme designed by and specifically aimed at young scientists. This was globally launched in 2009 and there is a desire to organize regular congresses for many years to come. Another avenue, closely related to the IYPE, is the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. This operates in close synergy with the World Heritage Centre and the Biosphere Reserve world network of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. The essence is to promote national territories around the world which integrate sites of significant geological heritage into a strategy for regional socio-economic development. It provides an international framework to enhance the value of the Earth’s heritage, its landscapes and geological formations, as key elements of the history of life. This global programme also includes a number of active regional groups, such as the European Geoparks. As a nationally supported and park-based educational and recreational network of appeal to the widest possible age range, from young children to their grandparents, it has a tangible and long-term status and is in a good position to carry forward several of the aims of the IYPE. The International Year of Astronomy (IYA), marking the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei, is a global effort initiated by the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO. It is a celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, aiming, in participatory
(WH): 2009 is also the Year of Darwin, marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark work, On the Origin of Species. The Galápagos Islands, which inspired Darwin’s key research, was among the first sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. What would you like to see conveyed on this occasion? AB: Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is widely recognized as one of the most influential books of all time, and its publication in 1859 transformed scientific and wider public thinking about natural life and humanity’s place in the natural world. The change in thinking that the book brought about was a historic stage in the development of the modern understanding of human nature and of life on Earth. Consequently, Darwin’s ideas have outstanding universal value in present-day science. Darwin’s observations on the Galápagos Islands were only the beginning of his life’s work. Following his round-the-world voyage in HMS Beagle, his work continued from Down House, his home in Downe, UK, where the gardens, grounds and surrounding landscape served as his laboratory and field station for forty years, and where he developed and demonstrated his theories and published his findings. The whole of his work is also an excellent example of the development and application of the system of thinking, experimentation and peer review which are the underpinnings of all modern science.
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ways, to stimulate worldwide interest in astronomy and science, especially among young people. Events and activities are designed to promote appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that can be shared by all nations. There are activities at the local, national, regional and international levels, many of these fostering collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers, science centres and science communicators. Eleven Cornerstone Projects, which are key elements in the success of the IYA, are global programmes of activities centred on specific themes. Among them are the support and promotion of women in astronomy, the preservation of dark-sky sites around the world, educating and explaining the workings of the universe to millions, Astronomy & World Heritage, and the production of relatively cheap but goodquality telescopes that can be distributed globally. Again, the momentum for young people can be kept up in a natural way by encouraging the continuation of many of the activities thus established. A special project for young people that was initiated earlier and is included as a Cornerstone Project is Universe Awareness, an international outreach activity that exposes very young children in underprivileged environments to the scale and beauty of the universe. Universe Awareness illustrates the multicultural origins of modern astronomy in an effort to broaden children’s minds, awaken their curiosity in science and stimulate global citizenship and tolerance. By using the sky and the natural fascination it holds for children as a common ground, international awareness of their place in the universe and their place on Earth can be fostered.
Environment: The sky’s the limit How is climate change affecting the night sky? This is just one of the issues that an International Workshop and Expert Meeting on ‘Starlight Reserves and World Heritage – Scientific, Cultural and Environment Values’ addressed from 10 to 11 March 2009 in Fuerteventura (Spain). Participants from ten countries, representatives of private organizations, companies, the tourism industry, NGOs, scientific bodies and research institutions, as well as international organizations including UNWTO, the International Astronomical Union, the UNESCO MAB Programme and the World Heritage Centre, discussed such issues as how increasing urbanization and industrialization have led to greater use of light sources, and therefore to an upsurge in light pollution. Light pollution, participants said, is not only compromising the intrinsic values of the night, but is increasingly related to the loss of biodiversity and the alarming rate of climate change. The meeting recommended that light pollution be defined as ‘the introduction by humans, directly or indirectly, of artificial light into the environment’. It called for the setting up of a dark sky protection classification system, so that there can be a common understanding of dark sky protection terms, such as ‘park’, ‘reserve’ or ‘preserve’. In establishing definitions that can be used in different languages and cultures, the meeting concluded that ‘starlight’ also incorporates the concepts of dark skies, natural lightscapes and skyscapes. The meeting noted that, while starlight as such is not in danger, human ability to see the starlight is, due to light pollution and pollution of the air. It encouraged promoting the adoption and dissemination of the Declaration in Defence of the Night Sky and the Right to Starlight (see page 34) as a reference guide. States Parties were asked to develop appropriate frameworks for the protection of dark skies and to adopt and implement the requirements and orientations in the Starlight Reserve Concept document as
Party, or by the Director-General between Committee sessions, verifying information and critical issues in relation to the implementation of a decision of the Committee. RMM continues to be applied to the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls, four natural heritage properties in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia) and the Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Serbia). This session saw the launch of the Periodic Reporting exercise for Africa. The Committee also called on States Parties, the African World Heritage Fund, the World Heritage Centre and all those involved in the conservation and management of African natural and cultural heritage to develop a fund-raising strategy to boost financial resources. With the approach of universal ratification of the World Heritage Convention and the 40th anniversary of this international treaty, the Committee devoted time to reflection on its success and how best to meet emerging challenges. In this light, the Committee decided that it would be useful to develop an overall strategic plan to guide the implementation of the Convention over the next ten years. Several high-priority short- to medium-term activities which need immediate action were identified. These include the development of an inclusive plan of action to increase community awareness and engagement; the exploration and development of creative approaches, including the use of the Tentative List process, which could reduce the number of properties that experience significant problems; and the development of recommendations to assist States Parties in responding effectively to the range of problems that emerge for inscribed properties. Recognizing the insufficient funding available for the preservation of World Heritage sites, the Committee called for the exploration of further options to increase voluntary contributions to the World Heritage Fund by States Parties. The Committee elected João Luiz Silva Ferreira, the Minister of Culture of Brazil, as Chairperson, and Britta Rudolff of Bahrain as Rapporteur. Australia, Egypt, Kenya and Sweden were elected as Vice-Chairpersons. The 34th session of the Committee will be held in Brasilia (Brazil) in July 2010.
guidance for World Heritage properties and other protected areas that include astronomical values. The experts recognized that tourism is an excellent opportunity to promote the Starlight Initiative and recommended that a framework towards starlight certification with voluntary standards be prepared. The expert meeting also encouraged States Parties to cooperate in formulating potential serial nominations to cover outstanding examples of astronomical heritage and observation sites and called for the Starlight Initiative to be promoted among the public, scholars, decisionmakers and the business community, with particular attention to the tourism industry. Participants recommended using the context of climate change to link the Starlight Initiative to the promotion of energy-efficient and intelligent lighting in urban, rural and remote areas. Finally the meeting explored collaboration with other international conventions.
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