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Lasting legacy of World Heritage sites

29 September 2010

The UK’s economy, tourist industry and education systems will all benefit from better management and partnership between the country’s World Heritage Sites. That is the message being sent to a heritage experts meeting at New Lanark World Heritage Site (WHS) today to share their experience in providing effective education and outreach around World Heritage Sites in the UK.

Education forms an intrinsic part of managing World Heritage Sites and is specifically referred to in the World Heritage Convention. Engaging young people in this work is essential and in 2009 the UK National Commission launched the ‘Making Sense of Our Sites’ programme. This initiative supports UK World Heritage Sites to communicate messages of World Heritage effectively to schools.

In the opening address of the UNESCO UK World Heritage Education Conference on Wednesday at New Lanark WHS, Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External Affairs will outline the unique opportunities for capitalising on the cultural assets we share.

The Minister said: “Here in Scotland we are proud to have five wonderful sites that are deemed to be of universal significance. These sites must play a central role in creating a wealthier, smarter and greener Scotland. We need to inform more people about this fact to develop a greater interest in our rich heritage.”

Professor Peter Stone from the UK National Commission for UNESCO said: “Engaging young people in the protection, conservation, and interpretation of World Heritage Sites is essential to inspire future custodians of our global shared heritage. World Heritage Education can help create a generation of young people who love where they live and have an understanding of the cultural and natural diversity of the UK.”

On behalf of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, New Lanark World Heritage Site will from 29th-30th September 2010 host the second of three conferences which will bring together representatives from UK World Heritage Sites. This is the first time such a conference is being held in Scotland. The conference will consider progress and development in World Heritage Education (WHE) over the past year and look towards bringing together examples of good practice for a forthcoming Guidance Document on World Heritage Education for UNESCO.

This conference is part of the Making Sense of Our Sites initiative which supports UK World Heritage Sites to communicate messages of World Heritage effectively to schools. A major part of this programme is to use the UNESCO Associated Schools network in the UK to establish meaningful and sustainable relationships between World Heritage Sites and local schools to ensure that children and young people have more engagement with the internationally important heritage on their doorstep.

The conference will be followed by a one-day World Heritage Youth Summit on 1 October, sponsored by Historic Scotland, which will bring together 45 young people to explore what World Heritage means to young people in Scotland.

Notes for editors

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

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  • UNESCO Associated Schools in the UK is part of a global network of schools promoting quality education. The UK network supports the integration of international perspectives in schools and promotes the values of UNESCO, including human rights, mutual respect and cultural diversity. It works to better prepare children and young people in the UK for the challenges of an increasingly complex and interdependent world. For more information visit or contact Anne Breivik, UK National Coordinator, UNESCO Associated Schools on or 020 7766 3460.

  • UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.  Its main objective is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to foster equality, human rights and peace among member nations. World Heritage is an international programme managed by UNESCO to ensure that member nations commit to conserve and protect outstanding examples of natural and cultural heritage now and for the future. Each Member State of UNESCO has a National Commission which engages with civil society in country. The UK National Commission for UNESCO is the focal point in the UK for UNESCO-related policies and activities. For more information see

  • World Heritage Sites have a cultural or natural significance that “is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and of importance for present and future generations of all humanity”.  There are currently 28 World Heritage Sites (WHS) in the UK. They vary greatly and include archaeological sites, historic buildings, natural formations, urban centres and industrial landscapes. This diverse range of sites demonstrates the outstanding contribution that the UK has made to global human advancement and also recognises some of the most outstanding natural landscapes in the world. The UK is currently reviewing its Tentative List to identify new potential sites to be submitted to the World Heritage Committee for consideration as World Heritage Sites.  

  • The World Heritage designation helps preserve and protect the sites for future generations. Engaging young people in this work is essential and UNESCO has developed the World Heritage in Young Hands programme, including an education kit to help raise awareness about the importance of looking after our cultural and natural heritage. Members of UNESCO Associated Schools across the world have helped shape the education kit which has now been translated into 30 languages.


Anne Breivik
Programme Secretary (Culture)
UK National Commission for UNESCO
Direct line: 020 7766 3460
Mobile: 07742921572

Isabelle Uny
Fundraiser & Programme Secretary
UK National Commission for UNESCO Scotland Committee
Mobile:  +44(0) 777 380 8912 (Mon/ Tues/ Thur)

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768100