What is universal value

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Criteria for being recognized as a world heritage site

In order to be able to make an objective selection, UNESCO has created criteria on the basis of which a committee selects the cultural and natural sites from the many submissions each year to be included in the World Heritage List. The most important criterion is the exceptional universal value. The cultural and natural assets must be genuine and authentic and protection by the laws of the respective state must be guaranteed before they are awarded.

Sites are considered exceptional and universal if they meet one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The object is a unique artistic achievement, a masterpiece of a creative mind.
  2. The object had a considerable influence on the development of architecture, urban planning, art or landscape design in a region at a certain time.
  3. It is a unique testimony to a lost civilization or cultural tradition.
  4. It is an outstanding example of a type of building or ensemble or landscape that represents a significant period in human history.
  5. It is an example of a traditional form of settlement, of land use that is typical for a particular culture.
  6. It is closely linked to events, traditions, creeds or ideas, as well as to artistic works of universal importance.
  7. The site is an outstanding natural phenomenon of extraordinary beauty.
  8. The site is an exceptional example of a section of the earth's history, geological processes and landforms.
  9. The landscape provides an example of ongoing biological and ecological processes.
  10. The site contains significant natural habitats for animals and plants, especially when they are threatened or of scientific interest.
© 2021 World Heritage for Schoolchildren by the Austrian Commission for UNESCO