Historical archive

Svalbard on Norway’s tentative list to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of the Environment

Svalbard represents natural and cultural values that Norway has a special responsibility for securing on a global basis, and UNESCO has signalled a specific interest in arctic nature. Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy has therefore initiated the inscription of Svalbard on Norway’s revised Tentative List.

Svalbard represents natural and cultural values that Norway has a special responsibility for securing on a global basis, and UNESCO has signalled a specific interest in arctic nature. Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy has therefore initiated the inscription of Svalbard on Norway’s revised Tentative List.

- Status as World Heritage is the highest stamp of quality an area can get. Norway takes on a big responsibility when an area is inscribed on the World Heritage List and the world will pay attention to whether we manage the area well, says Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy.

Svalbard represents natural and cultural values that Norway has a special responsibility for securing on a global basis, and UNESCO has signalled a specific interest in arctic nature. Photo: Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Norwegian Polar Institute.
Svalbard represents natural and cultural values that Norway has a special responsibility for securing on a global basis, and UNESCO has signalled a specific interest in arctic nature. Photo: Geir Wing Gabrielsen, Norwegian Polar Institute.

Only areas with outstanding natural or cultural qualities, combined with good management, may be inscribed on the prestigious list. The nomination process will determine whether this is the case for Svalbard.

A Tentative List is an inventory of those properties situated on its territory which each State Party considers for inscription on the World Heritage List. A potential nomination depends on local support. In the further process there will be close collaboration between local authorities and affected parties on Svalbard.

World Heritage Sites are branded goods with great attractive force within the travel industry. Svalbard is already a tourist magnet and status as World Heritage may enhance this.

 - This gives us a challenge. Enhanced attention increases the risk of wear and tear and unsustainable use. It is crucial that the travel industry is considerate of this. At the same time the authorities must establish a framework that secures a sustainable use of the resources, emphasises Minister of the Environment Helen Bjørnøy.

Potential new nominations from Norway must be within underrepresented categories on the World Heritage List. They must also be areas that are unique to Norway or areas of which Norway is the best representative. Svalbard represents both natural and cultural values, and will be nominated as a mixed site in line with the UNESCO Global Strategy for a better balanced list.

The revised Tenative List also includes the Island of Jan Mayen and Bouvet as parts of a potential serial transnational nomination of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge together with Brazil, Great Britain, Portugal and Iceland. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a submarine mountain chain forming the North and South American Plates and the European and African Plates. The Island of Jan Mayen and Bouvet form the northern and southern supramarine extremities of the ridge. The other supramarine points are islands or cliffs belonging to the above-mentioned countries.