News: UNESCO found new construction, including buildings and a football stadium on the site which was granted World Heritage site status. This made the organization revoke Liverpool’s WHS status. Read News Here.
For UPSC :
From the UPSC perspective, information about the World Heritage Site and the list of Sites in India is given here. Click here. As far as this particular topic goes, you need to remember that UNESCO has powers to remove any site from its World Heritage Site list if the UNESCO Committee concludes that such sites are not properly managed or protected. According to the convention of the World Heritage Committee, a decision to delist the site is taken by a majority vote of two-thirds of the members as mentioned in their Article 13(8).
There can come a question in prelims (statement-based) which says ” once given the WHS protection, UNESCO cannot delist the Site”. But as you know now, UNESCO with its WHS Committee has the powers under article 13(8) to delist any site if proper protection and management is not done.
How many sites have been removed from the World Heritage List?
Until now three World Heritage Sites have been removed/ delisted by UNESCO. They are:
- Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, Oman: The first site to be removed in 2007. The sanctuary had become a World Heritage Site in 1994. The status was given inorder to protect the oryx population in the sanctuary. But, oil reserves were found in the area which led to rampant exploitation, and eventually hunting and poaching of the oryx. This reduced the population of oryx by 90 percent. This led to the removal of Oman’s site from the World Heritage Site List.
- Dresden Elbe Valley, Germany: The removal led to a national embarrassment for Germany. The Valley is a 20 km-long site, which was given the status in 2004. But the local government wanted to construct a bridge over the valley which became the bone of contention between the supporters and opponents of the bridge. According to a UNESCO’s Committee this bridge (the Waldschlösschen Bridge) would bisect the valley and due protection would not be given once the bridge is constructed. However, the local government carried a voting for the issue, without informing the voters that a construction of the bridge would result in delisting of the site from the World Heritage Site, stopping the funds for its protection, and eventually leading to decrease in tourism. Thus in 2009 UNESCO removed Dresden Elbe Valley from the list.
- Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, England: The recent one to be removed was conferred the status in 2004. It consists of 6 locations in the city centre which UNESCO considered for being the best example of a commercial port at a time when Britain had global influence. But Liverpool’s projects like the Water Redevelopment project, the construction of new buildings in the vicinity and also the construction of new football ground raised the concerns about the protection which England gives to such sites. These events led the World Heritage Committee to delist the site in 2021.
Consequences of removing a site:
First of all, it’s very rare that a decision to delist a site is taken by the high-level WHS committee. A warning is first given and the site is placed on the endangered list. If protection and proper management are given by the concerned members then the site is removed from the endangered list and the risk of getting the site delisted also does not haunt anymore. But there still are cases when UNESCO has removed the sites for non-compliance. But the consequences are:
- No more funding from UNESCO: When a site is included in the WHS list, funding is given to the concerned member state in order to conserve and protect the site. But once the site is delisted, total funding for the related site is stopped which adversely hampers the conservation efforts.
- National Embarrassment: Even when the member state gets funding, yet if they fail to manage the site, leading to removal can cause national embarrassment for the country.
- Decline in tourism: One of the main reasons why member countries apply their Sites with the UNESCO is to let the people around the world know that such a cultural and natural site exits. Foreign visitors have an attraction towards such conserved sites. This leads to generating more income for the locals through tourism sector. But the delisting can seriously affect the income opportunities of the locals.
More on this website for your UPSC Preparation:
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/international-relations/
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/science-technology/
ENVIRONMENT & ECO.: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/environment-ecology-and-biodiversity/