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World Heritage Transition: Europe to Asia

Author winterkjm
#1 | Posted: 20 Jan 2014 21:46 | Edited by: winterkjm 
This has been discussed on occasion within this forum. However, I think a milestone is approaching that symbolizes this shift.

China will surpass Italy as early as 2016 in total world heritage sites. Once China passes Italy, it will likely never be surpassed by any country. I think this symbolizes a major paradigm shift in world heritage inscriptions. Surely, Europe will continue to submit a high proportion of nomination dossiers. Yet, with the three juggernauts of China, India, and Iran submitting 2 (often highly worthy) nominations almost ever year, it will be hard for even Italy, Spain, France, and Germany to compete.

Furthermore, with emerging countries like Myanmar, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Bhutan, and Indonesia there are plenty of missing gaps to be filled. The more consistent nominations will continue to flow from developed countries like Japan and Korea.

While this shift is not exactly obvious yet. It is worth noting the inevitable approaching transfer of a European-dominated list to one eventually being centered and driven by nominations in Asia.

Author clyde
#2 | Posted: 21 Jan 2014 04:20 
Interesting points. I think it is only fair and it will ensure a more geographically balanced WH list.

Another curiosity I have is when will the WH list reach 1000 sites? Will it be already in 2014 or 2015?

Author meltwaterfalls
#3 | Posted: 21 Jan 2014 05:22 
To be honest it is very welcome and not really surprising.

As a continent Asia:
-is home to the majority of the world's population
-has the some of the longest documented histories
-has various claims to being the 'birthplace of civilisation',
-is the birthplace of the 7 largest religions (excluding folk/ traditional) and a huge amount of the medium sized ones
-has a startling diversity of peoples that is somewhat masked by the modern constructs of 'Nation states'
-is developing economically
-sees the potential in post modern undertakings such as cultural tourism.
-China alone is the size of Europe with a much larger population and more/ similar levels of diversity in terms of peoples/ history/ landscape

Taking all that into account then yep it certainly does look like there is potential for an Asian take over, more to the point the question should really be why has Asia been so slow in getting sites inscribed thus far, and putting my Marxist hat on it it is basically economics.

Some Asian countries seem to use the WHL in the same way as European countries and are now grinding smaller to find niche gaps/ getting variants of similar things inscribed (Japan, South Korea, Israel spring to mind) others are only just starting to tap the potential they have. Again though this reflects economic development and indications are that other countries will be moving in that direction

I for one am really looking forward to it, even the inevitable duplication of slightly dull sites.

Author hubert
#4 | Posted: 21 Jan 2014 06:55 | Edited by: hubert 
However, it's not Asia in general with an increasing number of nominations. It's mainly China, India, and in addition countries like Japan, Iran or Korea. And in Latin America mainly Mexico and Brasil. Certainly, these countries have plenty cultural heritage that is worth to get an inscription. But this is also true for eg Peru, Egypt or Arab states.

But the quality of a site is only one criterion. To succeed with a nomination depends mainly on whether a state party is able to provide a comprehensive nomination dossier and a conclusive management plan. And it's not only the money and political will, though both play an important role. I think, it's also know-how, experience, sufficient personell ressources (scientists, historicans etc) etc for preparing nomination documents and also to maintain preservation and protection.

There are still a lot of sites where the outstanding value is obvious and where the quality of the documents is not crucial. But I suppose that, in a few years, we will have a discussion on, let's say Buddhist temples like today on Gothic cathedrals.

Author winterkjm
#5 | Posted: 21 Jan 2014 23:33 | Edited by: winterkjm 
It's mainly China, India, and in addition countries like Japan, Iran, or Korea. (Lately, I would also include Vietnam)

I think for now this is the case. However, there is certainly a renewed (or first time) presence of countries such as Myanmar, Philippines, Uzbekistan, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Indonesia. All of these countries are now actively pursuing nominations, often with extensive tentative lists. We also cannot forget Taiwan, as it seems a solution is on the horizon to include Taiwanese heritage sites.

On top of the regular nominations by China, India, Iran, Korea, Vietnam and Japan; these additional countries named above are all under-represented and include several sites we discussed in the Top 50 missing. It remains to be seen, if these countries can churn out high-quality nomination dossiers of deserving sites in the coming years.

Nevertheless, ultimately I believe each World Heritage Conference moving forward, especially by 2016, will be the norm (not the exception) to have more nominations from Asia than any other region.

General trend amongst countries with frequent nominations

Inscriptions since 2004 (last 10 years)
EUROPE Top 5 (41)
Italy: 11
Germany: 10
France: 9
Russia: 6
Spain: 5

*Nominations to be evaluated in 2014: 6
*Respective Tentative List: 136

ASIA Top 5 (45)
China: 16
Iran: 12
India: 6
Japan: 6
Korea (DPRK & ROK): 5

*Nominations to be evaluated in 2014: 6
*Respective Tentative List: 168

General discussions about WHS Forum / General discussions about WHS /
 World Heritage Transition: Europe to Asia

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