Picking (and politicking) our past

Once the World had Seven Wonders, there are 1,000 'World Heritage' sites.

It’s not supposed to be about being ‘beautiful’. To be listed as a Unesco “World Heritage” site, a location must represent “outstanding universal value” as expressed in one or more of 10 cultural or natural criteria. The emphasis is intended to be on uniqueness and historical value.

In practice though, the listings emerge from the messy sort of process that picks the winners in seaside beauty contests. A site can be nominated only by a UNESCO member – or members, if it spans more than one country.

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