World Heritage Initiative
Department of History
Atlanta, Georgia
Extended 44th Session of the
World Heritage Committee
34 New Properties Inscribed in Fuzhou, China
As the Labor Day Weekend marks the onset of the fall season, it also affords an opportunity to review the busy summer now drawing to a close. The two-week Extended 44th Session of the World Heritage Committee proved a highlight during this pandemic year for the Georgia State University World Heritage Initiative. Held as a virtual conference and streamed online each day from July 16 to July 31, the Session resulted in the inscription of an additional 34 sites to the World Heritage List.

His Excellency Mr. Tian Xeujen chaired the Session from Fuzhou, the host location in Fujian Province, China, gaveling in the synchronized meetings at 11:00 am Paris time. Delegates around the globe representing the 21 States Parties currently on the committee, representatives from such advisory bodies as the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and other nongovernmental organizations as observers tuned in and the deliberations began. It proved an amazing feat that overcame time-zone challenges and technical issues to run almost seamlessly.
With COVID-19 having cancelled the 43rd Session in 2020, the committee had two years of work to complete and did so efficiently, adjourning on the sixteenth day. It proved a bittersweet moment for Dr. Mechtild Rossler (pictured right) who retired as Director of the World Heritage Centre after 30 years at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
On the first full day, China proposed the Fuzhou Declaration (middle of the page on the link) a statement unanimously adopted by the Committee that called for international cooperation to reaffirm the commitment to the guiding principles of the World Heritage Convention. The statement recognized the need to tackle climate change while creating sustainable development, all the while building a “representative, balanced and credible World Heritage List.” In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2023, the Fuzhou Declaration called “for reflection and analysis on its history” while “looking towards its future, to promote the conservation of World Heritage, with the aim to maintain an open, inclusive, adaptive, sustainable, resilient, clean and beautiful world for future generations.”
The committee reviewed 258 State of Conservation Reports. It made significant modifications to the boundaries of three sites. It evaluated properties on the List of World Heritage In Danger and through secret ballot voted to remove Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City of Britain (inscribed in 2004), the first property delisted in ten years. Local officials in England had ignored repeated warnings and pursued development plans that compromised the Outstanding Universal Value of the site and thus lost inscription.
Photo by N. Johannes, via Wikimedia Commons
From the 39 properties initially proposed for inscription in 2020 and 2021, the Committee approved 34, of which 29 are cultural and five are natural sites, bringing the grand total up to 1,154 properties on the World Heritage List.
This project is funded in part by:
The African American Civil Rights program of the Historic Preservation Fund,
National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not constitute endorsement or necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior or U.S. Government; and
Grants from the African American Fund and the Southern Intervention Fund of the
National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Questions? Comments? 
Project Director Glenn T. Eskew: gteskew@gsu.edu or 404.413.6354
Project Manager Anne H. Farrisee: afarrisee@gsu.edu or 404.413.6353