Paris - UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor and Jaime Gaitero Fortes, director of the Fabrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre (FNMT), the Spanish national mint, recently signed an agreement giving the FNMT exclusive rights to create, produce and sell the first two series of UNESCO commemorative coins to promote safeguarding World Cultural Heritage.

Featuring a different World Cultural Heritage site on each one, the coins are intended to promote wider familiarity with the 350 cultural sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Royalties paid by the FNMT on sales of the coins will help fund UNESCO activities in the fields of education, science and culture.

Cultural heritage sites may be buildings, monuments, or places which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science. The World Heritage List also covers another category, natural sites, which currently includes 102 landscapes, habitats of endangered animals or plants, or areas of exceptional beauty.

Created on the occasion of UNESCO's 50th anniversary, the commemorative coins programme will last several years. The first of the two series of five coins, one gold and four silver, will shortly be placed in circulation.