UNESCO World Heritage's newest arm in the Pacific was launched in Suva earlier this week by Suzanne Wilson, acting Australian high commissioner in Fiji.
The Pacific Heritage Hub, covering 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, will be the link between UNESCO world heritage committee in Paris, Pacific Island governments, institutions, organizations and indigenous communities.
Speaking at the launch, Wilson said the Pacific Heritage Hub will further the reach and depth of the UNESCO world heritage convention in the Pacific and take Pacific heritage onto the global stage. More significantly, it will coordinate capacity building opportunities that will enable Pacific peoples to manage their own cultural and natural heritage.
The Pacific region is the most under-presented on the UNESCO world heritage list although it has many cultural sites and natural ecosystem that could be of outstanding universal value to humanity. The Hub has been established as a communication and exchange point to assist Pacific government put sites onto the UNESCO world heritage list and to assist existing Pacific sites improve management practices through capacity-building.
The current Pacific sites on the UNESCO world heritage list are: Kuk Early Agricultural site (Papua New Guinea), Bikini Atoll Nuclear site (Marshall Islands), Chief Roi Mata's domain (Vanuatu), Rapa Nui National Park (Chile), Phoenix Islands Protected Area (Kiribati), Reefs and Lagoons of New Caledonia (France), Rock Islands-Southern Lagoon (Belau), and Lake Tegano-East Rennell (Solomon Isands).
Of the more than 900 sites on the UNESCO world heritage list, only eight are from the Pacific. The Pacific Heritage Hub is tasked to work with partners in remedying this deficiency. (PR)