UNESCO State of Conservation: Chinese World Heritage Sites
Keywords:China, Environment, UNESCO, World Heritage, International Relations, Conservation
In 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) met from October 17th to November 21st in Paris, France, to draft a treaty concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. This treaty sought to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of our planet by creating a list of properties throughout the world designated as having outstanding value to humanity. The states parties were instructed to nominate areas within their individual countries worthy of preservation to be listed on UNESCO’s “World Heritage List”. This treaty has since been ratified or acceded to by 194 countries, including the People’s Republic of China. China is a special case because this country has 55 individual sites on the World Heritage List, tied only with the country of Italy for the most in the world. However, previous research has shown massive increases in tourist traffic at World Heritage sites, as well as a growing number of environmental issues associated with tourism (Guo et. al, 2019). This paper affirms the existence of environmental and conservation problems at Chinese World Heritage Sites and offers evidence to suggest the problems stem from Chinese government prioritization of tourism revenues over conservation.
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