13 November 2012

Did you know... the Okavango Delta in Botswana is currently not a UNESCO World Heritage Site

update (20 June 2014): Botswana: Okavango Delta to be listed as a World Heritage Site!

update (16 June 2014): The annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee (15 - 25 June 2014) is currently taking place in Doha, Qatar. During this session, the Committee will consider the inscription of 36 sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List and will also examine the state of conservation of more than 100 of the 981existing World Heritage properties. One of the the 36 sites is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Fingers crossed! We will keep you posted!

update (23 Sept 2013): According to UNESCO culture specialist Damir Dijakovic, the Okavango Delta is on course to become a World Heritage Site. A team of experts from the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN) are scheduled to visit Botswana in October 2013

update (10 Sept 2013): Fantastic news just came in via the offical facebook page of the Government of Botswana! Botswana has finally nominated the Okavango Delta as a World Heritage Site having prepared and submitted a (complete) nomination dossier to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for consideration. The nomination is now getting evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union, which then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. Once a site has been nominated and evaluated, it is up to the intergovernmental World Heritage Committee to make the final decision on its inscription. Once a year, the Committee meets to decide which sites will be inscribed on the World Heritage List. It can also defer its decision and request further information on sites from the States Parties.

The government of Botswana applied for UNESCO World Heritage Status for the Okavango Delta about a year ago in October 2011, but due to requests for additional maps and information by the UNESCO World Heritage Center the nomination of the Delta got delayed until February 2013. After the nomination, a UNESCO Site Selection Committee will visit the Okavango Delta in preparation for declaration as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in February 2014.

Once the Okavango Delta is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site it can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund and, more importantly, it will be legally protected by the "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage".
II. National Protection and International Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage
Article 4
Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 and situated on its territory, belongs primarily to that State. It will do all it can to this end, to the utmost of its own resources and, where appropriate, with any international assistance and co-operation, in particular, financial, artistic, scientific and technical, which it may be able to obtain. [src.]
The video above is the trailer for the film Okavango. The film's obejective is to ensure that the world understands the importance of the ecological services provided by the Okavango wetland ecosystem before it disappears, and to activate its audience to help achieve UNESCO World Heritage Status. Declaration will not ensure the Okavango Delta remains untouched with the entire catchment vulnerable to development. The film will celebrate the intrinsic value of the vast untouched catchment in Angola that sends down the annual floods to this globally important ecosystem that is visible from space – an emerald gem in the middle of the Kalahari. The campaign linked to the film will advocate for a tri–nation (Angola–Namibia–Botswana) World Heritage Site, proper legislative protection, and a commitment to ecotourism as the economic driver for the region. (via okavangofilm.com)

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