Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal to sign an agreement with UNESCO for the establishment of a Centre for World Natural Heritage Management and Training Centre for Asia-Pacific region at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in Dehradun as a category-2 centre of the UN body.
• Through this agreement, Environment Ministry and the Centre will provide capacity building support to countries in the region for upkeep of heritage and natural sites.
• India has 32 UNESCO heritage sites of which 7 are natural sites and 25 are cultural sites at present.
• Through the establishment of the centre in Dehradun, India will be uniquely placed to provide services for preparation and evaluation of proposals for new sites in Asia-Pacific region.
• The operatinalising of the UNESCO C2C at WII would enable India to be a leadership in the Asia-Pacific region, which comprises of around 50 countries.
• The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).
• Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.
• UNESCO World Heritage Committee composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
• As of July 2015, 1031 sites are listed, 802 cultural, 197 natural, and 32 mixed properties, in 163 states parties.
• According to the sites ranked by country, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 51 sites, followed by China (48), Spain (44), France (41), Germany (40), Mexico (33), and India (32).