I remember being somewhat "shocked" a few years ago when I discovered that it was costing up to £500,000 (c US $750k) to bring a UK site through to inscription.
However, the costs I have been reading which China incurred in bringing Danxia through are just mind boggling:-
$177 MILLION over 4 years according to this Web site (and the IUCN evaluation puts it at over $200 million)http://opinion.globaltimes.cn/commentary/2010-08/561971.html
Of course the money went on more than just producing "Management Plans" and glossy "Nomination Files". China seems prepared to undertake significant infrastructure investments as part of gaining Inscription. The extent to which these are justified in other terms is no doubt debatable – the interviewee for this article is backpedaling heavily over any suggestion that it is all a money making opportunity or for the greater glory of China – but rather for the benefit of all mankind!
I just love this paragraph with its picture of local governments being "converted" to see the conservation light "I have to admit that in the beginning, some local governments tried to win the title mainly for the monetary benefit the sites might bring to the regional economy, not to preserve our cultural or natural heritage. But during the process of preparation, they learnt little by little about the importance of the heritage through their interactions with international experts. Many of them have been converted, and their understanding of natural wonders has undergone a big change. They no longer seek only financial returns, but sincerely want to protect the treasures of mankind."
Oh and it is all a "misunderstanding" to think that ticket prices go up when a site gets WHS status!
I also found this comment particularly chilling "Third, some money was spent to relocate villagers and improve their living conditions."
China's development rush over the last 20 years has been accompanied by considerable corruption in depriving people of their homes and land with minimal or no compensation in order to enable government officials and their business cronies to make a financial killing. It seems a great shame that UNESCO might well now be complicit in such activities. The IUCN evaluation states that "Local communities are aware of the World Heritage nomination, and six interviews were conducted with villagers and locals during the IUCN evaluation. All stakeholders interviewed were very supportive of the World Heritage proposal."
I bet they were – they have to live there long after IUCN have gone home and were those interviews random and secret??
The Interviewee was also rather dismissive of IUCN's proposal to "defer" viz "Although the IUN (sic) is a world-recognized authority, it doesn't mean it doesn't make mistakes. I believe this international organization has not been very fair with developing countries during its assessment of World Heritage candidates, at least this time round. In their assessment report, we found some contradictions and errors, which also became the basis for us to persuade the UN to overthrow the decision."
It would be wonderful to know the nature of the "persuasion" which went on!!! (Though if I look at the countries on the WHC I can have a good guess) It does appear that the whole process of gaining inscription is becoming more and more a political one. Perhaps we begin to sense why it was that such a high percentage of AB recommendations were overturned this year. I am perfectly sure that the ABs are often over-pedantic. But, rather than just ignoring the evaluations which have been carried out on the basis of objective criteria the proper way round the issue is publicly to change the rules of the game rather than decide matters behind closed doors. Dresden gets struck off the list by the WHC for following a democratic decision; undemocratic and corrupt China gets the deferral recommendation of IUCN overturned by the same body!! The more I look at the process the more I feel that UK (and other developed countries) should drop out – the game just isn't worth the candle. And there is absolutely no "sour grapes" regarding the "deferral" of UK's nomination as the Chinese interviewee implies – I for one have publicly been very dismissive of it from the start!!