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World Heritage Conference Concludes

After 10 days of intensive discussion on 27 items among over 500 delegates, the 28th Session of the World Heritage Committee concludes in Suzhou Wednesday, with two important documents named "Suzhou Decision" and "Suzhou Declaration" adopted.


At the closing ceremony, Zhang Xinsheng, chairman of the session, thanked Chinese President Hu Jintao for his congratulatory letter to the conference.


The session witnessed 34 new sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, which brings the World Heritage Properties to a total of 788, said Zhang.


"The World Heritage nomination is no more confined to single property but expanded to group projects including many sites at one time. Many delegates have expressed their wish for strengthened cooperation in joint nomination," he said.


On the last day of the session, the World Heritage Committee adopted the "Suzhou Decision," deciding to examine up to two complete world heritage nominations per state party each year since 2006.


The decision, which is a key revise to the Cairns Decision, also says at least one of such nominations should concern a natural property.


"The Suzhou Decision represents a significant step forward toward making the World Heritage List more balanced, more preventative and more credible," Zhang said at the closing ceremony.


According to the Suzhou Decision, the World Heritage Committee will review up to 45 nominations each year, inclusive of nominations deferred and referred by previous session of the committee, extensions, trans-boundary nominations and nominations submitted on an emergency basis, instead of 30 new ones set by the Cairns Decision.


The session also passed the Declaration on Enhancing Youth Education on World Heritage Protection, which says youth education is of great significance for fulfilling all tasks set out in the global strategy on world heritage protection.


"Numerous world heritage sites in State Parties have been well protected, thanks to the awareness raising and education on the part of the local governments of those countries," says the "Suzhou Declaration."


"Among us there will be future leaders who will make decisions and implement plans. Consequently, ..., it is of the utmost importance to strengthen youth education," it says.


The declaration urged the governments, institutions, organizations and associations of various countries to take concerted actions to further raise young people's awareness and sense of duty on world heritage protection.


Countries should draw up action plans and identify specific measures to serve as national guidelines for youth education on world heritage, it says.


As an important follow-up to this session, there will be the 7th Extraordinary Session and an experts' meeting in Paris this December, which will further examine regional report on world heritage protection, according to the session.


This session, first of its kind hosted in China, has become an unprecedented one with the most delegates and longest meeting period in history. The 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee will be held in Durban, South Africa in 2005.


(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2004)



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