World Heritage Day, which is observed annually on April 18, offers an opportunity to raise public awareness about the richness and diversity of the world’s cultural heritage and the imperative to protect and conserve this valuable asset, and draw attention to its vulnerability.
Every year, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) proposes a theme for the celebrations and activities be organized by the ICOMOS National and International Scientific Committees and other participating organizations.
This year, the theme is “Rural Landscapes” — which is linked to the theme of the 2019 ICOMOS Scientific Symposium on Rural Heritage slated in October in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The “Principles Concerning Rural Landscapes as Heritage” adopted by the ICOMOS General Assembly in 2017 define rural landscapes as “terrestrial and aquatic areas co-produced by human-nature interaction used for the production of food and other renewable natural resources, via agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism, fishing and aquaculture, forestry, wild food gathering, hunting, and extraction of other resources, such as salt.
Rural landscapes are multifunctional resources.
At the same time, all rural areas have cultural meanings attributed to them by people and communities: all rural areas are landscapes.”
The idea of holding an “International Day for Monuments and Sites” to be celebrated simultaneously worldwide was suggested at April 18, 1982, a symposium organized by ICOMOS in Tunisia.
It was approved by the Executive Committee that provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organize and celebrate the day.
The idea was also approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference, which passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983, recommending that member states examine the possibility of declaring April 18 each year as “International Monuments and Sites Day.”
This has been traditionally called World Heritage Day.
ICOMOS is an international non-government organization that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places.
Its network of over 10,000 expert members in 132 countries, represented through national committees, and international scientific committees contribute to improving the preservation of the world’s heritage sites.
It is an advisory body to UNESCO on matters of world heritage.
The Philippine National Committee of ICOMOS promotes applied research, theory, and scientific methodology in the effort to conserve and protect the country’s architectural landmarks, monuments, heritage landscapes, and archeological sites.
As we mark this year’s World Heritage Day, let us contribute toward the conservation and promotion of this “shared wealth of humankind.”