The challenges facing heritage preservation as UNESCO celebrates the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention were the focus of the opening of the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee. The session started in St Petersburg on June, 24 and will continue until July, 6. Polylog Company is involved in the organization and media support.

The Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Eleonora Mitrofanova, welcomed the participants pleading for the credibility of the World Heritage Convention. “We must keep in mind the indisputable reality that the outstanding universal value of World Heritage sites is based on local values, local experience and most importantly, on local preservation efforts. In other words, local and indigenous peoples are the key actors who make this global heritage possible,” she said.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, highlighted the growing challenges of preserving World Heritage sites in the face of growing pressure. “The credibility of the inscription process must be absolute at all stages; States Parties hold primary responsibility in this regard,” stressed Irina Bokova.

The Director-General spoke of the “revolutionary idea” which provided the basis for the World Heritage Convention. Recalling the principles of scientific excellence and impartiality in the process of inscribing new sites, Ms Bokova called on all those involved “to act and think as visionaries to rejuvenate the World Heritage Convention and confront the challenges of the 21st century”.

The Culture Minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Medinsky, underscored the challenges related to destruction of traditional values that are embedded in the preservation of cultural heritage in the age of globalization. “The world is at once united and divided,” said the Culture Minister, emphasizing the importance of cooperation amongst peoples.

The opening ceremony took place in the presence of Alissandra Cummins, Chairperson of UNESCO’s Executive Board and the Governor of St Petersburg, Georgiy Poltavchenko. The ceremony ended with a rousing call in favour of heritage preservation by students from the UNESCO Associated Schools in Russia.