UNESCO designates 22 new World Heritage sites to list of protected – National

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The United Nations’ cultural agency has added 22 heritage treasures to its list of World Heritage sites, joining iconic locations like India’s Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.

READ MORE: UNESCO issues warning about Wood Buffalo National Park

The UNESCO World Heritage List Committee designated Britain’s Lake District, the Baden-Wuerttemberg caves in Germany, and the modernist architecture in Asmara — the capital city of Eritrea — to the roster of places with special recognition.

The additions come as the agency meets in Poland for an 11-day session to nominate new locations in need of protection and reviews the status and well-being of existing designated sites.

READ MORE: Montreal wants Mount Royal designated a UNESCO heritage site

The UNESCO designation, which recognizes the outstanding universal values of the sites, is meant to draw attention to them and the need to preserve them.

Among the other new sites on the UNESCO list are: the underground mines in Tarnowskie Gory in Poland, the historic city of Yazd, in Iran; Japan’s sacred and restricted-access island of Okinoshima, and Los Alerces National Park in Argentina.

2017 UNESCO World Heritage additions:

Also added Sunday were Turkey’s 3rd century B.C. Aphrodisias temple and the Valongo Wharf Archeological Site in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

However, as UNESCO leaders move ahead on boosting protections and expanding conservation around some heritage sites, some critics say politics is leaving other locations exposed.

READ MORE: The Great Barrier Reef’s coral is dying off, but UNESCO doesn’t think it’s ‘in danger’

UNESCO voted to leave the Great Barrier Reef off its “in danger” list on July 5 despite experiencing widespread destruction.

The decision, which was taken at UNESCO committee meeting allows Australia’s conservative government to dodge political embarrassment and potential damage to the country’s lucrative tourism industry,

Australia’s management of the Great Barrier Reef has come under sustained criticism amid the biggest ever coral die-off as a result of the strongest El Nino in 20 years, a weather event that scientists believe is exacerbated by climate change. Eager to head off charges that it was failing the site, the Coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull lobbied all 21 UNESCO members.

READ MORE: Australia’s not exactly racing against time to save the Great Barrier Reef

Despite endorsing Australia’s management plan, the World Heritage Committee did express “serious concern” about the health of the reef. It urged Australia to accelerate its efforts to improve water quality, describing it as “essential to the overall resilience of the property”.

-With files from Reuters and The Associated Press.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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