What Is World Heritage, and Why Is It Important?

World Heritage is the attempt to capture those cultural and geographic aspects of the global community that profoundly impact mankind, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Heritage is important because it promotes important cultural traditions and locations as belonging to everyone.

The organization's mission is based on a treaty signed in Paris in 1972 that vowed protection of things of world historical significance in the face of evolving social and economical relationships. Although UNESCO's World Heritage sites are located in specific geographic areas, in theory they are equally shared by the entire world population. The organization's mission statement provides clauses for education and awareness as well as providing assistance in emergency situations to those sites that have been named World Heritage sites. It also encourages local populations to preserve cultural heritage,

As of January 2015, there are 161 member nations and a total of 1,007 sites. There are 46 sites on the organization's endangered list. The organization is headquartered in Paris, France, and is jointly governed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, The International Council on Monuments and Sites and The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.