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UNESCO and World Heritage

San Luca

The series of Bologna porticoes, selected in the context of the portico system found all around the historic city and significantly present in the modern city, peerlessly represents an ancient, widespread architectonic style. Never abandoned or neglected down the years, it remains in continuous evolution across the historic phases of the urban transformations. Displaying several chronological, stylistic and functional variations, the series is a perfect example of a kind of building style based on porticoes in common use in the civil housing of the working classes and in aristocratic residences, in public and religious buildings, developed from the 12th century to the present. A wide range of materials and styles was employed, and has survived until today as an intrinsic feature of a city that grows and changes over time.



UNESCO is the acronym for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Created in Paris on 4 November 1946, it is a United Nations special agency that grew out of the awareness that political and economic agreements are not sufficient to build a long-lasting peace: rather, peace should be based on education, science, culture and collaboration among nations. The purpose of UNESCO is to ensure universal respect for justice, law, human rights and the fundamental liberties that the Charter of the United Nations establishes for all peoples, irrespective of ethnicity, gender, language or religion.

UNESCO is committed to building the underlying conditions that will guarantee peace and prosperity for people of all nations, by promoting cross-cultural dialogue, respect for the environment and the best practices for Sustainable Development. It does so by pursuing the following objectives:

  • Promoting education, so that every child, boy and girl can have access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as an essential requirement for the development of personality;
  • Building cross-cultural comprehension, also by protecting and safekeeping the properties of exceptional value and beauty included in the World Heritage list;
  • Pursuing scientific cooperation to strengthen the bonds between nations and society, in order to monitor and prevent environmental catastrophes and to better manage the planet's water resources;
  • Protecting freedom of expression as an essential condition to guarantee democracy, development and the safeguarding of human dignity.

UNESCO is presently working to create holistic policies to tackle social, environmental and economical problems from a Sustainable Development perspective, by means of programmes to promote cross-cultural dialogue, universal access to the new information and communication technologies and the dissemination of scientific knowledge, in order to prevent the negative effects of climate change.

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On November 16, 1972, the World Heritage Convention was ratified in Paris, as the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. It was the first official international instrument to unite the notions of protection of nature and preservation of cultural assets, and was acknowledged as a necessary and fundamental element for the development of all societies on earth and for continued peace and solidarity.

The vital objective of the Convention is to safeguard World Heritage so it can be transmitted to all future generations. The Convention establishes the kinds of natural or cultural properties that can be included in the World Heritage List and the obligations of the Convention signatory Countries, known as State Parties, in identifying potential properties. It also defines their role in the protection and safeguarding of such properties.

The World Heritage List is the list of properties that the World Heritage Committee has officially determined as having Outstanding Universal Value – OUV, and that if lost will represent unrecoverable damage for the entire humanity. The Convention pays special attention to the aspects of education and information, because it is only by consolidating people's respect and attachment to cultural and natural heritage that it will be possible to guarantee its conservation.

In order to achieve recognition, each member country of the Convention requests the nomination of their own property. It submits an application, attaching documents and research and a specially drafted dossier to evidence the property's Outstanding Universal Value, in accordance with UNESCO’s selection criteria. The World Heritage Centre checks the completeness of the nomination dossier, and, if ascertained, submits it to the World Heritage Committee, which meets once a year to review nominations. The Committee then decides whether to proceed with the property’s inscription on the World Heritage List.

The 10 Evaluation Criteria

World Heritage

The identification, protection, safeguarding and transmission to the future generations of all cultural and natural heritage around the world is one of the principal missions of UNESCO.
The Heritage represents the legacy of the past which we now enjoy and will transmit to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. Therefore, unique and diversified places such as the wild expanses of the National Park of Serengeti in East Africa, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the baroque cathedrals of Latin America constitute our World Heritage.

The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972, establishes that nominated properties can be inscribed on the World Heritage List as:


Cultural Heritage:

  1. monuments: architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;
  2. groups of buildings: groups of separate or connected buildings which, because of their architecture, their homogeneity or their place in the landscape, are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science;
  3. sites: works of man or the combined works of nature and man, and areas including archaeological sites which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.

Natural Heritage:

  1. natural features consisting of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view;
  2. geological and physiographical formations and precisely delineated areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation;
  3. natural sites or precisely delineated natural areas of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.

The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention establish that properties shall be considered as “mixed cultural and natural heritage” if they satisfy a part or whole of the definitions of both cultural and natural heritage.

Cultural Landscape (since 1992):

  1. Cultural landscapes inscribed on the World Heritage List are cultural properties and represent the “combined works of nature and of man” designated in Article 1 of the Convention. They are illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and/or opportunities presented by their natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal.
    Protection of cultural landscapes can contribute to current techniques of sustainable land use and can maintain or enhance natural values in the landscape.