What is a World Heritage Site?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was created in 1945, following two world wars, in order to respond to the firm belief that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace between nations.
UNESCO believes that peace comes through nations working together to recognise their individual values and identities as important contributions to humanity. UNESCO strives to build networks among nations through education, intercultural understanding scientific cooperation and protection of freedom of expression.
Who is UNESCO?
A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. It is an exclusive club of sites that have proved that somehow or other they have made a contribution considered to be of ‘outstanding universal value’ to humanity.
The official term is World Heritage Inscription and gaining it would mean the Slate Industry would appear on the list of current World Heritage Sites alongside the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, the Forth Bridge, Stonehenge, the Great Wall of China and many other sites all over the world.
Are there any World Heritage Sites in Wales?
Wales already has three World Heritage Sites. The Pontcysyllte Aquaduct near Wrexham was designed by Thomas Telford. When it was completed in 1805 it was the tallest canal boat crossing in the world. Blaenavon Ironworks near Abergavenny was inscribed because of the great contribution it made to the Industrial Revolution. The Castles of Edward 1st are one of the main tourist attractions in Wales and one of them, Caernarfon Castle, is situated right next to the Slate Quay from where thousands of Welsh slates were exported to the four corners of the earth.
Who is behind the bid?
Gwynedd Council is leading the bid in partnership with Cadw, the National Museum of Wales, Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, Bangor University, The National Trust, the Slate Wales Partnership and Snowdonia National Park Authority.
The partners have formed a Steering Group and two sub-groups; one is responsible for planning, conservation and management, the other for economic development. Specialists in the fields of heritage, consultation and public relations have also been commissioned to work on specific tasks. The project is managed by a small group from Gwynedd Council’s Economic and Community Department and Cadw.
How is it being funded?
Each of the partners behind the bid has provided financial and in-kind contributions, however the majority of the funding is provided by Gwynedd Council. The Slate Wales Partnership is a group representing the public, private and voluntary sectors and its members have provided a considerable amount of specialist support and some financial support.
When do we submit the bid?
The Wales Slate bid was first submitted to the Westminster Government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2009 when it was placed on the tentative list for submission to UNESCO by the UK government. A technical evaluation of the bid was presented to the DCMS in November 2015 for consideration by a panel of heritage experts. We received constructive and positive comments on the bid in early 2016 and are now working towards developing and strengthening the necessary documentation with a view to gaining a date from DCMS for final submission of papers to UNESCO.