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UNESCO launches new research

Creating Sustainable Value
Photo credit: Jen Miles

Published today (25 June 2020) by the UK National Commission for UNESCO, new research shows UNESCO projects can help build a greener, more equal and more peaceful world, while also creating financial value.

UNESCO projects in the UK generate an estimated £151 million of financial benefit each year and help bring communities together to protect and conserve some of the most important places across the country.

From expansive mountain ranges in the Highlands of Scotland to densely populated urban areas such as Belfast, Bradford and Manchester, UNESCO certified projects include Global Geoparks, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Creative Cities. The projects span 12% of the UK’s land area and comprise of partnerships between 1,300 organisations, charities, and businesses. <adapt as necessary>

These partnerships are made mainly on a local level, between hundreds of groups all working together to support efforts in conservation, research, education, capacity building and tourism. This new research shows that continued investment in UNESCO projects is critical in helping the UK and devolved governments meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report is the first to examine the cultural, environmental and financial benefits to UK life from these diverse UNESCO projects, and their active contribution to the SDGs. Along with preserving precious landscapes, buildings and archives, UNESCO projects are also leading research on vital issues such as water scarcity, refugee integration, climate change and child literacy.

“This research shows the unique value offered by UNESCO projects in the UK. They embody community and enable us to preserve and enjoy our most special places and culture. They also pioneer solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems and inspire hope in these unprecedented times. Within this report are a number of case studies that can help inform the UK’s path towards a green recovery from the coronavirus crisis.” James Bridge, Secretary-General of the UK National Commission for UNESCO

Environment and Community

The research highlights the cultural, environmental and financial value of 76 UNESCO projects in the UK. It reveals a creative network rooted in community, rich in potential, and impacting lives here and around the world.

Examples of UNESCO projects with a positive impact on the environment and communities:

“Particularly striking is how all designations place the community at the core of their work. Their commitment to UNESCO’s values and objectives means they share a strong interest in bringing people together to build and nurture meaningful relationships with nature, heritage and each other.”  2020 UNESCO National Value Report

Economy

UNESCO World Heritage Sites rank among the most visited attractions in 2018 and are significant contributors to the UK economy. The research analysed the impact of being granted official UNESCO status, which has helped the 76 sites and projects surveyed generate an estimated £151 million to the UK economy in just one year.

However the total figure disguises significant variations, even before the challenges brought by Covid-19. Some sites still struggle to secure sufficient funding whether through tourism or other means, due to a low profile and lack of resources, and these problems will have been exacerbated during the lockdown. Investment in these sites is critical to increase cross-disciplinary work and enhance their contribution to the UK economy.

Read the report HERE

 

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