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In order to make the diversity and many facets of our unique World Heritage sites tangible for you, we will celebrate the Austrian World Heritage Day on 18 April 2023.
Every year on 18 April, the twelve Austrian World Heritage Sites celebrate the “Austrian World Heritage Day”. As a joint day of action, it is intended to help draw attention to UNESCO World Heritage in Austria and to raise awareness of the fact that constant efforts are needed to preserve these unique cultural and natural treasures from decay or destruction. Within the framework of this day, the twelve Austrian World Heritage Sites want to make World Heritage in Austria tangible and experienceable. Special events and activities – on site and online – allow unusual views of the old, open up new perspectives or give an impression of the work and efforts to protect and preserve these unique places and sites.
Since 1983, on the initiative of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), UNESCO has celebrated 18 April as the “International Day of Monuments and Sites” or “World Heritage Day”. Following this international day, the Conference of Austrian World Heritage Sites in 2020 decided to establish such a day of action in Austria as well.
UNESCO is an important member of the “UN family” – consisting of 15 specialised agencies. Its goal: to preserve, create and secure peace through the means of culture, education, and science. A total of 193 Member States and 11 Associate Members are committed to this goal. UNESCO’s headquarters are in Paris. UNESCO was founded in November 1945, shortly after the United Nations. The catastrophes of the first half of the 20th century provided the occasion and background: two world wars with millions of deaths, the persecution and extermination of ethnic, religious, and other minorities, totalitarian systems, weapons of mass destruction: Because hatred and prejudice originate in the mind, they would have to be prevented there as well.
With numerous programmes and projects, UNESCO tries to find answers to problems and to counter them with knowledge, exchange, and cooperation. The observance of human rights, gender equality and the sustainable use of nature are essential guidelines.
In Austria, the Austrian Commission for UNESCO ensures UNESCO’s presence and acts as a contact and advisory office for UNESCO affairs in Austria.
In 1972, the Member States of UNESCO established the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” (in short “World Heritage Convention”) in order to protect cultural and natural sites of global significance.
For a building, an ensemble of buildings, a natural monument, or a landscape to be considered a World Heritage Site, one key condition must be met: The cultural or natural entity must be of “outstanding universal value”. This means that it must clearly stand out from the abundance of comparable objects. And: its decay or wanton destruction would be an irretrievable loss for humanity. External expert advisors from cultural and nature conservation organisations examine the applications and recommend inclusion or rejection to the World Heritage Committee. The procedure takes special account of aspects such as cultural diversity and sustainability.
So far, 194 states have signed this international treaty and committed themselves to preserving those cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value for future generations. There are currently 1,157 World Heritage Sites in 167 countries around the world. They are invaluable testimonies to natural and human history.
18. April 2023