The browser you are using is out of date and is no longer supported. To view and use this site correctly, please update your browser to the latest version.

We're changing

We have created a new public body, Historic Environment Scotland. While we work on shaping our future we can reassure you that all services and products will continue as normal. Please follow our progress and find out more about our new organisation.

Young people gather at New Lanark for UNESCO World Heritage Youth Summit

1 October 2010

Young people from across Scotland gathered at the New Lanark World Heritage Site (WHS) today (1st October) for the UK UNESCO Youth Summit. The first to be held in Scotland, the summit aims to explore what world heritage means to young people and how they can help to preserve and protect the internationally important cultural and natural heritage on their doorstep.

Youth delegations representing all five World Heritage Sites in Scotland; the Antonine Wall, Heart of Neolithic Orkney, New Lanark, Old and New Towns of Edinburgh and St Kilda, were joined by a delegation representing the Historic Town of St George World Heritage Site in Bermuda.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage in Young Hands Programme, the UK world heritage Youth Summit is a unique opportunity for the young participants to put forward their views and visions on the protection of World Heritage Sites and how world heritage sites in Scotland can engage with young people that live on their boundaries.

The young people worked in groups to explore global challenges to world heritage sites, questioned world heritage experts through ‘speed interviews’ and took part in a Dragon’s Den style exercise to find the top three recommendations for how world heritage sites in Scotland can better engage young people through education and outreach. Teachers who accompanied their pupils were encouraged to help their schools join the international UNESCO Associated Schools network which has a growing number of members in the UK.

Two creative directors, facilitated the Youth Summit with the objective of creating a set of recommendations on what World Heritage Sites in Scotland can do to engage young people. These outputs will now be sent to all Scottish world heritage sites, Historic Scotland and Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Culture and External Affairs.

Ms Hyslop said;

“Scotland’s unique and diverse built and natural heritage is celebrated on a global scale, and is a large part of our identity. It is important therefore that young people are encouraged to develop an appreciation and understanding of their built environment from an early age, and have a voice.

“This event provides a fantastic forum to bring together representatives from our five world heritage sites to share their ideas, views and experiences with their contemporaries from the other side of the world. I very much look forward to receiving their feedback.”

Joanne Orr, Chair of the Scotland Committee of UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: “The Youth Summit is an excellent opportunity for young people to explore the unique natural and cultural heritage that Scotland is home to. Engaging young people in the protection and preservation of Scotland's five World Heritage sites is vital to ensure these sites remain part of our shared global heritage for future generations."

Christina Campbell from Sir E Scott School on the Isle of Harris, representing St Kilda World Heritage Site, said: “Preparing for the Youth Summit has made us think about our own culture and environment and why and how the unique qualities of St Kilda should be preserved for present and future young people to enjoy”.

The Youth Summit is organised by the UK National Commission for UNESCO. It is hosted by New Lanark World Heritage Site and sponsored by Historic Scotland.

For further information please contact:

Aynsley Gough
Education and Access Officer
New Lanark Trust
New Lanark World Heritage Site
Tel: 01555 667 232 (Direct)

Anne Breivik
National Coordinator, UNESCO Associated Schools
UK National Commission for UNESCO
Tel: 020 7766 3460/077 4292 1572 (mobile)


Notes to Editors:

  • 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, based in London, is the focal point in the UK for UNESCO-related policies and activities.

  • 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.

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858