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The World Heritage Convention celebrated its 30th anniversary on 16 November 2002. Uniting 175 governments in the collective protection of our shared heritage, the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is the most successful international conservation instrument in existence.
Today, the World Heritage emblem graces 730 sites around the globe, which have been inscribed on the World Heritage List for their outstanding universal value. Not only is the Convention a vital instrument for concrete action in preserving threatened sites and endangered ecosystems, it also enshrines what US environmentalist Russell Train, founding director of the World Wildlife Fund, called the simple and yet revolutionary concept that throughout the world there exist natural and cultural areas of such unique value that they truly are part of the heritage, not only of individual nations, but of all mankind.
Writing in the Convention's inaugural year, Train added: It is an idea which gives eloquent expression through cooperative international action to the truth that the Earth is indeed man's home and belongs to us all. Today, says UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura, the World Heritage Convention is a noble, vital force in the world, fostering peaceful coexistence and honouring our past in equal measure with our future.