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19 August
2015

Will Krakow host a Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee?

Krakow has made a bid to host the UNESCO World Heritage Committee Session in 2017. Each session is a huge event on an international scale and a marvellous opportunity to promote the host country and host city. On August 18, a letter of intent was signed in the Krakow City Office by Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage Małgorzata Omilanowska, Minister of Foreign Affairs Grzegorz Schetyna, and Mayor of Krakow Jacek Majchrowski.

“The signing of this letter begins the diplomatic procedure for the application for the right of Krakow to organise a session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 2017. The organisation of such a large project would be an opportunity to propose that certain historical and natural monuments in Poland that we regard as important from the perspective of our cultural and international policy be included on the UNESCO list. Above all, we would welcome very influential people responsible for the protection of monuments in Krakow. Participants in the session would have the possibility to see Krakow in its entire complexity and beauty,” Minister Małgorzata Omilanowska said after the signature of the letter of intent.

As Krakow’s Mayor Jacek Majchrowski has said, Krakow will campaign for the old part of the Nowa Huta steel mill as a unique urban complex to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Hosting the 41st Session of the World Heritage Committee in Krakow would be an honour for our city. As a city included in the World Heritage list in 1978 as one of the first 12 places in the world, and as the first Slavic and the second non-English UNESCO City of Literature, Krakow is the perfect place for such an important project. A UNESCO World Heritage Committee session is a major event on a global scale and, at the same time, a huge organisational challenge. For this reason, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the City of Krakow have declared that they would work together and undertake every effort to ensure that the event promoting Poland and its culture on such a large scale would be organised with the utmost care and on an adequately spectacular scale.

Sessions of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have been held in various cities around the world every year since 1977. During each session, new additions to the World Heritage List are voted upon and announced in three categories: “natural goods,” “mixed goods” and “cultural goods,” The committee also considers the state of preservation of sites from the list and decides on the extension of criteria of the inscription. In this way, the protected area in the Białowieża Forest was extended by almost 140,000 ha in 2014. In the last few years, sessions of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee were held in Seville (2009), Paris (2011), Petersburg (2012) and Bonn (2015). The host of next year’s session will be Istanbul. This year’s session was attended by 2,200 delegates from 170 countries and attracted 155 media representatives from around the world.