Saving George Town’s charm

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Source: The Star, 20190330
Source: The Star, 20190330
Source: The Star, 20190330

via The Star, 30 Mar 2019: Death by Unesco-listing is not new, and I’ve previously featured stories about the negative effects of World Heritage status to other sites in the region (see here and here).

It has been 11 years since George Town was recognised as a Unesco World Heritage site. However, the city is now paying the price for its unique status.

The numerous transformations to make it appealing to the middle class have made its original residents leave the old city for the suburbs, and this is threatening to derail its universal values.

Besides the everyday traffic, tourists arriving by the busload, especially during the holiday seasons, are making the narrow roads congested.

The designer cafes, hotels, stalls and souvenir shops that have sprouted up in recent times are not helping the situation either.

Scores of residents have moved out, selling their heritage properties to foreign investors.

Statistics by Think City, a community-focused urban regeneration organisation here, showed that traditional communities in the heritage area are fast disappearing.

Source: Saving George Town’s charm – Nation | The Star Online

Our Journey to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage City

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Source: Chiang Mai City Life, 20190301
Source: Chiang Mai City Life, 20190301
Source: Chiang Mai City Life, 20190301

via Chiang Mai City Life, 01 Mar 2019: Reflections on the process of nomination a property for World Heritage listing.

You may be surprised to learn that Chiang Mai is well on its way to submitting its final dossier to UNESCO in our bid to become Thailand’s first living heritage city. It has involved an extraordinary amount of work by people from many sectors. And while UNESCO suggests an indicative timeframe of ten years for the preparation of nominations, and we have been at it for just over three years since we were placed on the tentative list in 2015, those leading the charge say that they may be ready to submit in as little as a year’s time. If accepted, this would be a great honour and boon for Chiang Mai; if not, the process itself has been an invaluable asset to the development of the city…and we will still have many years to regroup and reapply.

Source: Our Journey to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage City

#savesithep Thai Cabinet approves proposing Si Thep to World Heritage List

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Si Thep Historical Park. Stock photos from Shutterstock/Yeastman
Si Thep Historical Park. Stock photos from Shutterstock/Yeastman
Si Thep Historical Park. Stock photos from Shutterstock/Yeastman

via MGR Online, 08 Mar 2019: The Thai cabinet at a meeting on Friday has approved the nomination of Si Thep as a Unesco World Heritage site, effectively starting the process. This would mean that Si Thep would eventually be added into the Unesco World Heritage tentative list. Inclusion into the tentative list typically happens at least a year before the country formally makes the nomination submission. Original article is in Thai.

ต่อมาเวลาประมาณ 11.00 น. แหล่งข่าว เปิดเผยภายหลังการประชุมว่า ที่ประชุมคณะกรรมการแห่งชาติฯ ได้มีมติเห็นชอบตามที่เสนอแหล่งมรดกทางวัฒนธรรม เมืองโบราณศรีเทพ จ.เพชรบูรณ์ เข้าสู่บัญชีรายชื่อเบื้องต้นมรดกโลก ซึ่งกระบวนการต่อจากนี้สำนักงานนโยบายและแผนทรัพยากรธรรมชาติและสิ่งแวดล้อม (สผ.) กระทรวงทรัพยากรธรรมชาติและสิ่งแวดล้อม ในฐานะฝ่ายเลขานุการ จะต้องจัดทำรายละเอียดเพื่อเสนอเข้าสู่ที่ประชุมคณะรัฐมนตรี (ครม.) พิจารณาและให้ความเห็นชอบ จากนั้นก็จะส่งไปยังคณะกรรมการมรดกโลกพิจารณาต่อไป

Source: มติบอร์ดคุ้มครองโลกเห็นชอบเสนอ “เมืองโบราณศรีเทพ” ขึ้นบัญชีมรดกโลกทางวัฒนธรรม

Plain of Jars could receive World Heritage status in July

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via Vientiane Times, 04 Feb 2019: Laos expects that the Plain of Jars will be listed in the the World Heritage list later this year.

Good news is expected for Laos’ Plain of Jars (Thong Hai Hin) in July when UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meets to make a decision on the site’s status, a government official said last week.

Director General of the Heritage Department at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Thongbay Phothisan, said that after a lot of hard work to process the necessary paperwork, he hopes the Plain of Jars will soon be listed by UNESCO as Laos’ third World Heritage Site.

Source: Vientiane Times

Towering success: scientists work on My Son relics

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Restoration of My Son Sanctuary. Source: Vietnam Net, 20190202
Restoration of My Son Sanctuary. Source: Vietnam Net, 20190202

via Vietnam Net, 02 Feb 2019: An update of the restoration work on the My Son Towers by the Italian conservation team.

The current restoration process is regarded as a transition in the application of research on the construction materials as well as archaeological methods in restoring the Cham towers in My Son, members of the team said at a workshop held recently in the central province of Quang Nam.

The workshop focused on highlighting the effectiveness of the technical process used on tower E7 and tower group G. This is regarded as evidence of the efficient co-operation between the UN culture agency UNESCO, Vietnam and Italy.

Phan Ho, director of the My Son relic management board, confirmed the effectiveness of technical solutions that have been used to restore Cham towers in Vietnam, particularly those in My Son, saying that thanks to the restoration process, the relics were stable and had avoided further deterioration, and the towers should withstand the impacts of both humans and the elements.

Source: Towering success: scientists work on My Son relics – News VietNamNet

Sarawak to re-submit bid to make Niah Caves Unesco heritage site

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Source: Sarawak Forestry Corporation, via Malay Mail 20190122
Source: Sarawak Forestry Corporation, via Malay Mail 20190122

via Malay Mail, 22 January 2019: The Sarawak Government expresses renewed interest to nominate the Niah Caves as a World Heritage Site due to recent findings of Pleistocene occupation of the cave dating 65,000 years.

The Sarawak government will re-submit nomination for the Niah Caves National Park in Miri Division to be a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Site, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said today.

He said an archaeological works carried out by researchers from University of New South Wales, Australia, showed evidence of human settlements at the caves dated back to about 65,000 years ago.

“On record, human settlements in other parts of the world is about 40,000 years ago, but the Niah caves have evidence to show that the settlement was much more earlier,” he said at the opening of the stakeholders consultation on the proposed forestry policies here.

Source: Sarawak to re-submit bid to make Niah Caves Unesco heritage site | Malaysia | Malay Mail

Bagan ready for heritage listing experts

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Source: Myanmar Times 20190125
Source: Myanmar Times 20190125

via Myanmar Times, 25 January 2019:

The Department of Archaeology and National Museums is ready to answer questions on the Bagan heritage area from the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), says the department’s director. Richard Mackay, an expert from the council, conducted a survey last September for a report that will be submitted to UNESCO regarding Myanmar’s application to list the ancient city as a World Heritage Site. “We are preparing to answer the questions of the ICOMOS expert, who wants more information before su

Source: Bagan ready for heritage listing experts | The Myanmar Times

Intangible heritage stands up to scrutiny

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via Bangkok Post, 15 December 2018: A friend from Unesco Bangkok pens this opinion piece about the inscription of the masked Khon dances from Cambodia and Thailand into the Intagible Cultural Heritage list.

That said, what is most interesting in the value of masked dance about Ramayana is not how beautiful they are as art forms, or how they are made prize possessions of countries in the nomination process. Instead, they are most interesting as local traditions that are still viable to many different communities across the region, so all of them practise and pass on the skills and passion to the next generation. These masked dance variations have survived until today, thanks to the stewardship of local community

Source: Intangible heritage stands up to scrutiny | Bangkok Post: opinion

Ayutthaya World Heritage celebration scheduled during 7-16 December

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via Pattaya Mail, 01 December 2018:

Ayutthaya – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) plans to celebrate Ayutthaya World Heritage from 7-16 December 2018 at the Ayutthaya historical park. Deputy TAT Governor for Domestic Marketing Noppadon Pakprot said the agency has joined hands with Ayutthaya province, government agencies, and private companies to organize the event, which will be held for the […]

Source: Ayutthaya World Heritage celebration scheduled during 7-16 December – Pattaya Mail

UNESCO’s World Heritage program has lost its way

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A new book by Lynn Meskel discusses how the original mission of the Unesco World Heritage list has its focus distorted from conservation and preservation to tourism and economic benefits. The book is called A Future in Ruins: UNESCO, World Heritage, and the Dream of Peace

Created in 1946 to help establish peace through international cooperation in a world ravaged by two colossal wars, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) hoped to change the “minds of men and women,” as its constitution says.

The agency aimed to achieve that mission through education, cultural exchange and conservation of heritage sites.

But that utopian ambition has gotten lost, according to Stanford anthropology Professor Lynn Meskell, who has spent the last eight years researching the history of the organization and its World Heritage program.

Today, most countries seem to care more about getting their historic sites onto the World Heritage List in order to benefit from UNESCO’s brand rather than discuss conservation and preservation, Meskell said.

Source: UNESCO’s World Heritage program has lost its way | Stanford News