UNESCO Celebrates "50 years of World Heritage - 30 Years of Ratification by the Republic of Austria".

More+ ♦ Published: October 24, 2022; 22:41 ♦ (Vindobona)

At the invitation of the Austrian Commission for UNESCO, the celebrations of this year's double World Heritage anniversary took place. The motto of the event was "50 years of World Heritage - 30 years of ratification by the Republic of Austria" and took place in the historic Kursaal of the town of Baden near Vienna, itself part of the transnational World Heritage site "Great Spa Towns of Europe".

Lazare Eloudou Assomo, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center delivered a speech via video message at the event. / Picture: © ÖUK

The evening was opened by Mayor Stefan Szirucsek (City of Baden) and the President of the Austrian UNESCO Commission Sabine Haag. Greetings followed from Section Head Jürgen Meindl (BMKÖS), who represented Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler, as well as Christoph Thun-Hohenstein, designated Section Head representing Secretary General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal (BMEIA). Provincial Councilor Martin Eichtinger brought the greetings of the Province of Lower Austria on behalf of Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Among the guests were also National Council Member Eva Blimlinger and the Viennese Member of Parliament Omar Al-Rawi as well as numerous representatives from politics, science, culture and the twelve Austrian World Heritage Sites.

Austria's President Dr. Alexander van der Bellen delivered a greeting message, which emphasized the central role of the World Heritage Convention as one of the most important international legal documents of our time. The greeting message was read by Patricia Bubalo, a student of the HLA Baden. Likewise, the Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (Paris), Lazare Eloundou Assomo, addressed his greetings to the guests by video message.

After impressive footage of Austria's World Heritage sites by filmmaker Georg Riha, the evening's keynote speaker, the founding Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and former Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Bernd von Droste zu Hülshoff, looked back on 50 years of the World Heritage Convention, emphasizing not only the relevance of cultural and natural heritage protection in the light of current developments and challenges but also pleading for the strengthening of World Heritage in the spirit of its original conception as an instrument of international support and cooperation.

Secretary General Martin Fritz and Stephanie Godec (Austrian Commission for UNESCO) presented the recently published book "Wundersames Welterbe". Finally, Caroline Jäger-Klein (President ICOMOS Austria) and Gertraud Strempfl-Ledl (World Heritage Site City of Graz - Historic Center of Eggenberg Castle) reiterated in a short panel discussion the demands of the Open Letter of the Austrian World Heritage Sites Conference for stronger legal protection and ensuring sufficient resources for the preservation of World Heritage in Austria.

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is the most important international legal agreement for the protection of the unique cultural and natural sites of this world. Adopted 50 years ago, the Convention was ratified 30 years ago by the Republic of Austria, which thereby committed itself to the objectives of this Convention. The commemorative event focused on one message above all: the preservation of our common global cultural and natural heritage is a top priority issue for the future, especially in terms of conserving our resources and our habitats.

UNESCO - Austrian Commision