IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


7th November, 2022 Environment

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Context: According to a study conducted by the UN body, a third of the glaciers on the UNESCO World Heritage list are under threat, regardless of efforts to limit temperature increases.



  • The study said it was still possible to save the other two-thirds if the rise in global temperature did not exceed 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.
  • In addition to drastically reduced carbon emissions, the UNESCO is advocating for the creation of a new international fund for glacier monitoring and preservation.
  • Such a fund would support comprehensive research, promote exchange networks between all stakeholders and implement early warning and disaster risk reduction measures, the study said.
  • Half of humanity depends directly or indirectly on glaciers as their water source for domestic use, agriculture, and power.
  • Glaciers are also pillars of biodiversity, feeding many ecosystems.
  • This study highlights the urgent need to cut greenhouse gas emissions and invest in nature-based solutions, which can help mitigate climate change.
  • As many as 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites are home to glaciers, representing almost 10% of the Earth’s total glacierised area.
  • The UNESCO study, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), showed that these glaciers have been retreating at an accelerated rate since 2000 due to CO2 emissions, which are warming temperatures.
  • They are currently losing 58 billion tonne of ice every year — equivalent to the combined annual water use of France and Spain — and are responsible for nearly 5% of observed global sea level rise.

What are World Heritage Sites?

  • It is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
  • World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance.
  • As per the ‘Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage’1972, UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
  • As of July 2021, a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries. With 58 selected areas, Italy is the country with the most sites on the list.
  • Categories: A World Heritage Site can be either cultural or natural areasobjects which are inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for having “outstanding universal value”.
  • These sites are usually considered to have cultural significance to all the people in the world, including future generations.


How are they selected?

  • According to The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, a country must first list its significant cultural and natural sites into a document known as the Tentative List.
  • The sites selected from that list move onto the Nomination File, which is then evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union.
  • Any site that wasn’t first included in the Tentative List cannot be nominated.
  • The two bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee, which consists of diplomatic representatives from 21 countries.
  • The committee meets each year to decide whether a nominated property can be inscribed on the World Heritage List.
  • The committee makes the final decision if a site meets at least one of the ten selection criteria.


Can a site lose its designation?

  • A site may lose its designationwhen the World Heritage Committee determines if it is not properly maintained or protected.
  • It is first placed in the list of World Heritage in Danger as the Committee attempts to find a remedy involving the local authorities. If any remedies fail, the designation is revoked.
  • A country can also request the Committee to partially or fully delist a property, generally in such cases when its condition has seriously deteriorated.


How many World Heritage Sites are in India?

  • There are currently 32 culturalseven natural and one mixed World Heritage Sitesin India.
  • Oldest sites:Agra Fort, Ajanta Caves, Ellora Caves, and Taj Mahal made it to the list in 1983.
  • Latest sites:The latest sites to be added to the list Dholavira in Gujarat, Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple in Telangana in 2021.
  • There are 46 sites in the Tentative Listincluding a group of monuments at Mandu and the historic ensemble of Orchha in Madhya Pradesh, Satpura tiger reserve, temples of Kanchipuram, temples at Bishnupur in West Bengal, and Sri Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar, Punjab.


Indian Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (40)

Cultural (32)

  • Agra Fort (1983)
  • Ajanta Caves (1983)
  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)
  • Churches and Convents of Goa (1986)
  • Dholavira: a Harappan City (2021)
  • Elephanta Caves (1987)
  • Ellora Caves (1983)
  • Fatehpur Sikri (1986)
  • Great Living Chola Temples (1987,2004)
  • Group of Monuments at Hampi (1986)
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram (1984)
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal (1987)
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan (2013)
  • Historic City of Ahmadabad (2017)
  • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (1993)
  • Jaipur City, Rajasthan (2019)
  • Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple, Telangana (2021)
  • Khajuraho Group of Monuments (1986)
  • Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya (2002)
  • Mountain Railways of India (1999,2005,2008)
  • Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi (1993)
  • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat (2014)
  • Red Fort Complex (2007)
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003)
  • Sun Temple, Konârak (1984)
  • Taj Mahal (1983)
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)
  • The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (2010)
  • Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai (2018)


Natural (7)

  • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area (2014)
  • Kaziranga National Park (1985)
  • Keoladeo National Park (1985)
  • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (1985)
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks (1988,2005)
  • Sundarbans National Park (1987)
  • Western Ghats (2012)


Mixed (1)

  • Khangchendzonga National Park (2016)