African World Heritage Day

5 May

Proclaimed by the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO (November 2015), African World Heritage Day (5 May) is an opportunity for people around the world, and particularly Africans, to celebrate the Continent’s unique cultural and natural heritage.

While Africa is underrepresented on the World Heritage List (African properties account for some 12% of all inscribed sites worldwide), a disproportionally high percentage (39%) of these properties are on the World Heritage List in Danger. Faced with various contemporary threats, such as climate change, uncontrolled development, poaching, civil unrest and instability, many of Africa’s wonders risk losing their outstanding universal value.  It is therefore more urgent than ever that this irreplaceable heritage be protected and preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.

UNESCO is committed to spearhead international efforts to draw on the vast potential of Africa’s cultural and natural heritage as a force for poverty reduction and social cohesion as well as a driver of sustainable development and innovation. Through this international day, UNESCO aims to increase global awareness of African heritage, with a special focus on youth, and to mobilise enhanced cooperation for its safeguarding on the local, regional and global level.

 

MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL

"Investing in the safeguarding and enhancement of the heritage can create new education and employment opportunities. Involving communities in local and regional projects helps to stem the rural exodus and migration, and to defuse the sentiments of exclusion and alienation that breed violence and radicalization. Africa is a priority for UNESCO. For many years now, the Organization has been working closely with the African World Heritage Fund and civil society actors so as to give the magnificent heritage of Africa its due, and to implement durable social and educational policies and promote a culture of peace."

 —  Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, on the occasion of African World Heritage Day

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