Every year, April 18 is celebrated as the ‘International Day for Monuments and Sites’ to promote cultural heritage through the activities that are undertaken by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). A theme is proposed for the World heritage day that guides the celebration and activities for the day. Usually, activities that are conducted on this day are visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round tables and newspaper articles. As the world is going through a global health crisis due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the theme of the world heritage day 2020 is ‘Shared Culture’, ‘Shared heritage’ and ‘Shared responsibility’. The theme of World heritage day 2020 can be seen as an expression of global unity due to the ongoing crisis. In this blog, we would be talking about the history, significance and how we can celebrate this day amidst the ongoing pandemic.
History of World Heritage Day
The International Council for Monuments & Sites (ICOMOS) is a non-governmental organization that works on preserving and conserving heritage sites worldwide. On April 18, 1982, the ICOMOS had organized a conference and put forth a proposal for a worldwide celebration of ‘International Day for Monuments and Sites’. In 1983, UNESCO in its 22nd session of general conference approved April 18 as the International Day for Monuments and Sites. The sole purpose of celebrating the ‘World heritage day’ is to raise awareness among the people about the importance of cultural heritage and the need to protect & preserve it. If you want to know about India’s cultural heritage, do read the blog Cultural heritage of India.
Theme of World Heritage Day
The theme of world heritage day is proposed by the ICOMOS every year. Last year in 2019, the theme of World Heritage Day was ‘Rural landscapes’. The theme for World Heritage Day 2020 is ‘Shared Culture’, ‘Shared heritage’ and ‘Shared responsibility’. This theme reflects the global context of heritage as a part of cultural identity during the time of rapid population shift, conflict, and environmental uncertainty.
Objective of World Heritage Day
A world heritage site is defined as a “natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and space which requires special protection”. The prime objective of celebrating this day is to conserve the heritage of three categories natural, cultural and mixed for the next generation. As per the latest survey of January 2020, there are a total of 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites worldwide, of which 869 are cultural, 213 are natural and 39 are a mixture. India has a total of 35 world heritage sites, of which 27 are cultural,7 are natural and 1 is a mixed site.
How can we celebrate World Heritage Day
In the face of the ongoing global crisis and containment measures across the world, the theme of the World Heritage Day2020 is to raise awareness about the conservation of heritage sites virtually. Possible activities in which you can indulge on this day are round tables, webinars, online lectures, poster presentations, live-streamed interviews, press releases, round tables, social media campaigns, etc. You can also celebrate World heritage day by:
Posting photos and information on the culture and heritage of your country, short, slideshows or videos. You can also use hashtags that go along with the image.
You can upload images associated with the theme to the ICOMOS photo bank. To upload the images in ICOMOS you first need to create an account.
You can also share virtual tours and videos of monuments and other sites on social media. Do not forget to check out Google Art and culture that provides access to a countless number of heritage sites worldwide for free.
It is through these online activities that we can spread awareness about our cultural heritage and educate everyone about the rich cultural history of our country.
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