03.02.2017 - Culture Sector

UN Oceans Conference on SDG 14: Preparatory meeting will include special UNESCO side-event on underwater cultural heritage

An important UN Oceans Conference will take place in UN HQ, New York, from 5 to 9 June 2017, to support the implementation of SDG 14. It will be preceded by a Preparatory Meeting on 15 – 16 February 2017. During this preparatory meeting, UNESCO will organize a special event to raise attention to underwater cultural heritage and the 2001 Convention. The event will take place on 15 February 2017 in the UN Headquarters building, Conference Room A.

The protection of the underwater cultural heritage is necessary and essential for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. Humanity maintains throughout history a close relationship with the oceans: they are a source of food, but also an interface of contact for trade, war, religion and ideas. Waters separates but also connects civilizations. The underwater cultural heritage is a witness to this relationship between humanity and the sea. It is estimated that about 3 million wrecks rest on the seabed without counting the thousands of sunken cities and ruins, such as the lighthouse of Alexandria. 

However, this heritage is under threat from looting, commercial exploitation, trawling-damage, construction and climate change. Protecting and studying this heritage is critical for our understanding of the oceans in their relation to humanity. Sustainable use of this heritage as a resource for tourism can also wield benefits for local communities. The UNESCO side-event will promote the incorporation of underwater cultural heritage in the global efforts on oceans and sustainability.

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