Poland to host the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee

Between July 2nd and 12th Poland will host the 41st UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting. During ten days of discussions, delegates from the 21 UNESCO World Heritage Committee member states will make decisions about sites of cultural and natural importance all over the globe.

During ten days of discussions, delegates from the 21 UNESCO World Heritage Committee member states will make decisions about sites of cultural and natural importance all over the globe. Attending in the role of observers will also be government representatives from nearly 170 States Parties of the Convention and representatives of non-governmental organizations affiliated to UNESCO. The Committee’s Session will be chaired by Professor Jacek Purchla, President of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO, Director of International Cultural Centre.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee sessions are annual international meetings of the 21 member states of the Committee, covering the practical application of the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The Committee meetings take place according to a formally pre-agreed format and programme. Since 1977, they have taken place in different cities around the world. Poland, as a State Party of the Convention and member of the Committee, has the honour of organising and leading the 41st Session, which will take place in Kraków. The focus of the event, the same as in previous years, will be to make decisions relating to adding new items onto the World Heritage List as well as to review and to evaluate protection of the sites already inscribed.

The Polish item to be discussed during the 41st Session relates to Tarnowskie Góry Lead-Silver-Zinc Mine and its Underground Water Management System. If the discussions in Kraków lead to this site being added to the World Heritage List, it will be the 15th such item from Poland in the record. 

The 41st Session programme includes plenary sessions of the Committee and parallel events such as: the Young Professionals Forum and – organised for the first time by Poland in partnership with UNESCO – the Forum of World Heritage Site Managers and Civil Society Meeting. Developing the programme of events running alongside one another, the organisers were focused on the notion of common responsibility for the protection of natural and cultural treasures, which derives directly from the content of the Convention. World heritage is a priceless set of values which belongs to the whole of humanity – it belongs to us all, thereby also making us all (government representatives but also local communities) responsible for preserving it for the benefit of future generations.

According to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova: UNESCO world heritage holds a strong and positive vision of humanity, united around shared values and common history. At a time when culture and people are under attack in too many parts of the world, we need to foster this vision and this is the purpose of the Kraków meeting this year, to unite4heritage and strengthen a sense of a shared humanity.

According to Prof Piotr Gliński, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage: Poland, as an active member of UNESCO, fully supports the work being done to preserve world heritage sites. For the sake of our globe, now marked by the tragedy of Aleppo and Palmyra, the rebuilding of Warsaw and the painstaking reconstruction of its unique architecture at the end of WWII send a positive message to all those who have lost their cities as a result of military conflict. Destruction does not have to mean the permanent end of a city's existence, but can be the excuse for its restoration.

Common responsibility was also the idea behind the selection of the logo for the 41st Session
of the WHC. The arrows pointing inwards to form a circular shape symbolise a shared aim and collaboration. They also represent the meeting of delegates from all corners of the world at discussions and illustrate the format of the meeting: plenary sessions (the whole logo) as well as parallel events (separate arrows), which then form the whole of the Session. The project was developed by students of the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw.

The Session venue is the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, one of the most modern conferencing facilities in Europe. It will be also used to stage exhibitions as well as cultural events from various parts of the world. The official opening of the Session will take place on 2 July at Wawel Royal Castle in Kraków.

The official organiser of the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee, on behalf of the Polish government, is the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which will host the event in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, along with the city of Kraków itself. Representing the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in organising and coordinating the Session is the Naitonal Heritage Board of Poland.

According to Joanna Wronecka, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland: The chance to organise the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee is a huge honour and the chance to highlight Poland's contribution to the protection of global cultural and ecological heritage, in this case represented by Kraków. It is in a way the continuation of international meetings which were organised here in the past. This time, Kraków and its precious historical architecture, added to the World Heritage List in 1978, will welcome delegates from around the world engaged in the protection of cultural and natural treasures. The organisation of this 41st Session also has a symbolic context – 2017 is the 41st anniversary of Poland's ratification of the UNESCO Convention in 1976. 

Source: 41whckrakow2017.pl