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UNESCO Honors China With 1st Heritage Training Institute
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UNESCO officials and senior officials from Tongji University yesterday cut the ribbon on the first World Heritage Institute of Training and Research, Asia Pacific (WHITR-AP), with China having the honor of welcoming it.

Francesco Bandarin, director of the World Heritage Center (WHC) under UNESCO, said that members of WHC had studied a feasibility report by China of setting up such an institute, and China is now the first country to have such as institute under the WHC.

Zhang Xinsheng, vice-minister of education and chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO, said: "Because protecting world heritage sites is complicated and challenging, people working at the China-based institute will do so in a multi-task way."

He said WHITR-AP will operate from three sub-centers - Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou.

Zhang said: "The Shanghai center will be responsible for training in the protection of cultural heritage, Beijing, for training in the protection of natural heritage, and Suzhou, for training in the protection of endangered craftsmanship."

He said the three sub-centers will be based at universities - Shanghai centre in Tongji University, Beijing, in Peking University, and Suzhou, in Suzhou University, because of their strong research and academic support.

Under the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, there are three organizations offering technological support.

They are the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for the protection of natural heritage, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for the protection of cultural heritage, and the International Centre for the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) for the restoration of cultural heritage sites.

Sources said WHITR-AP, as the fourth organization under the World Heritage Centre, will provide a link between Asian, especially Chinese experts, and foreign counterparts in the three other organizations, as well and many foreign non-profitable organizations with similar aims.

Bandarin said the major function of WHITR-AP in China is to complement the activities of the World Heritage Centre by providing capacity-building and research programs at the regional level in Asia Pacific.

Zhang said: "After it comes into operation, WHITR-AP's main tasks will be organizing the educational and training programs for professionals, especially those in Asian countries, and co-operating with other research institutes in the region to conduct in-depth studies on heritage sites."

WHITR-AP will also organize symposiums and meetings at both the regional and international level, establish a comprehensive data base and disseminate the research through publications.

(China Daily, May 22, 2007)

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