Copyright 2006 - UNESCO

Space for Heritage

Our mission 


Space technologies to assist with monitoring UNESCO natural and cultural World Heritage sites
In support of the World Heritage Convention, space agencies, space research institutions and the private sector are assisting UNESCO with the use of space technologies to protect, monitor, document, present and share the wonders of our World Heritage sites.

This represents a unique effort for the UN system with over more than 50 space partners assisting UNESCO Member States from developing countries.
This initiative is known as the European Space Agency and UNESCO ‘Open Initiative on the use of space technologies to support the World Heritage Convention’.

The Open Initiative is a framework of cooperation, open to: space agencies, research institutions, non-governmental organizations, universities and the private sector. It aims to assist developing countries, through space technologies, to improve observation, monitoring and management of World Heritage cultural and natural sites.


In general, countries are making strong efforts to manage and protect their World Heritage sites. However, heritage in general is threaten by development pressures, insufficient resources and, as a consequence, lack of management, unsustainable tourism, looting, natural disasters climate change, etc.
In many of these areas space technologies can provide support by assessing the situation and demonstrating the ways in which it has changed over the last 10, 20 and 30 years, up to the present day. For this reason, in 2001, during the International Astronautical Congress (IAC, Toulouse) UNESCO and the European Space Agency (ESA) agreed to:

  • Undertake a joint initiative demonstrating the applications of Earth Observation and other Space Technologies (e.g. Navigation and Positioning, Communication) in support to UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention
  • Make a call to all other space agencies to join the ‘Open Initiative’ by assisting developing countries in relation with World heritage sites.

Space technologies have a large number of applications for World Heritage sites:

Space for World Heritage sites (From Space 2 Place)

© NASA - Landsat
Comparison of time-series of satellite images, obtained through remote-sensing, permits the identification of ground terrain changes, and assists in understanding emerging threats to heritage sites.
Back to top

Space for the people managing the sites (Space 4 People)

Kahuzi-Biega NP, Congo (Dem.Rep.)
One of the main goals of the Open Initiative is to assist countries in acquiring the initial capacity to use space technologies for the conservation of their heritage.
Back to top

Space for our young generation (Space 4 Young Generation)

Halong (VIetnam)
The Open Initiative – Young Generation works with partners of the Open Initiative to use satellite imagery to educate youth about the changes happening to the planet and inspire an interest in the conservation of UNESCO’s cultural and natural sites.
Back to top


Click HERE to enlarge the diaporama.