The 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is one of the most esteemed and well-known agreements made by UNESCO. By 2008, it had been ratified by 185 states.
The aims of the Convention include ensuring the protection of humanity’s cultural and natural heritage, establishing management plans, increasing respect towards them and disseminating information. The Convention provides the basis for international co-operation in preservation, conservation, and assistance in saving of cultural and natural heritage, even when national resources are lacking.
Preservation of world heritage
The Preservation of world heritage is a responsibility shared by all of humanity. The history of each nation is reflected in its material and immaterial heritage. Immaterial heritage means knowledge, skills, views and traditions. History is present in material heritage as concrete objects, built environments, cultural landscapes and unique natural locations. The convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is aimed at the preservation and management of material heritage, so that it can be passed on to future generations in as authentic a form as possible.
World Heritage sites
State parties to the Convention can propose properties within their national territory to be included in the list of World Heritage sites. Being accepted as a Cultural Heritage site requires that the site is a masterpiece of human creativity or otherwise bears exceptionally significant evidence of an existing or extinct culture. The site can be a building representing a significant historical period or represents typical dwellings of a certain culture. It may also have to do with events, living traditions, religions and beliefs or artistic or literary works. Cultural landscapes are cultural environments that have been shaped by the long-time interaction between man and nature.
Natural heritage sites may speak of an important development stage in the history of the earth, or may be an example of an on-going ecological or biological change. It can also be a haven of endangered species or represent exceptionally beautiful scenery.
More information on the Finnish World Heritage sites can be found on the National Board of Antiquities’s website at
The World Heritage sites are presented at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website at