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UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) was founded in 1945, at the end of World War II for the purpose of maintaining peace among peoples.
It undertakes international actions in several areas (education, science, culture, communication, information) and its main missions include eradicating poverty, providing quality education for everyone, contributing to development and encouraging protection of the natural and cultural, tangible and intangible heritage.

The World Heritage label is attributed by UNESCO to places or properties of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), i.e. worthy of interest for all humanity and without equivalent elsewhere in the world. Listing aims to protect them for future generations to be able to enjoy them in turn.

By signing the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 1972, the 190 States Parties expressed their commitment to the conservation and valorisation of their natural and cultural heritage.

This Heritage of Humanity is as emblematic as it is diversified: churches, historic towns and cave paintings are in the cultural heritage, while parks and forests, coastlines, islands and volcanoes are part of Earth’s natural heritage.

The List currently includes 962 Properties, 38 in France.

Outstanding Universal Value is “cultural and/or natural significance so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.

(Article 49, UNESCO convention)

“Nature Property” includes:

  • Natural monuments made up of physical and biological formations or groups of such formations of Outstanding Universal Value from an aesthetic or scientific standpoint;
  • Geological and physiographic formations and strictly delimited areas inhabited by endangered plant or animal species of Outstanding Universal Value from the standpoint of science or conservation;
  • Natural sites or strictly delimited natural areas of Outstanding Universal Value from the standpoint of science, conservation or natural beauty;
  • The Properties belonging to this whole and satisfying one or more natural criteria (vii to x):
    • vii: Natural beauty;
    • viii: Example of stages in Earth’s history (geology);
    • ix: Example of the evolution of life (biological processes);
    • x: Exceptional flora and fauna (biodiversity).

Candidates must prepare a complete dossier to prove before the World Heritage Committee that the selected Property satisfies the UNESCO criterion (or criteria).
To satisfy UNESCO requirements, candidates must undertake scientific studies demonstrating the Territory’s Outstanding Universal Value. They must also undertake a comparative study with another Property, whether or not it is already a World Heritage Site, and, finally, put together a management plan over several years for the Property’s long-term conservation and protection.

The main steps in filing a candidature entail:

  • Characterising and defining OUV, which is the basis for listing;
  • Defining the determinant criterion or criteria;
  • Undertaking a comparative analysis of the listing of similar properties the world over;
  • Determining the Property’s integrity through the attributes that characterise it;
  • Delimiting the perimeter of the proposed Property;
  • Developing a management plan for long-term protection of the Property.

The World Heritage Committee, made up of 21 countries, decides whether a Property should be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each country is elected for a 6-year term of office.

The Committee meets once a year to select applications on the basis of recommendations by experts chosen for each Property. Following the meeting, there are four possibilities:

  • The Property is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site;
  • The decision on the Property is postponed: the application must be improved and modified for resubmission the following year;
  • The Property is deferred: the application will be reconsidered following a new expertise by specialised bodies (UICN);
  • The application is rejected: the candidature is permanently excluded.

A Property is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for an indefinite period.
Once listing has been obtained, the project’s backers must do their utmost to protect it and ensure its conservation, on condition of being on the List of World Heritage in danger.
If a Property ceases to satisfy UNESCO criteria (degradation, poor conservation, damage to OUV), it may be permanently delisted; this was the case for the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) and the Dresden Elbe Valley (Germany), withdrawn from the World Heritage List in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site entails meeting the challenge of top-quality management for the protection of these territories and offering very environmentally-friendly accommodation capacity.

This candidature also offers a fabulous opportunity for all our territories ― coastal and mountain ― to boost our economy in such areas as clean transport, high environmental quality accommodation, catering and restaurant service using fresh products and promoting locally-grown products.

The Mediterranean Alps’ UNESCO project is a way of bringing together local citizens (French, Italian and Monegasque); elected officials, residents and socio-professionals around shared values, like cross-border solidarity and environmental conservation.

Because we love these exceptional protected geological areas on both sides of our borders and want to protect them, we must join forces to bring this project to fruition.

The Mediterranean Alps cover a discontinuous territory both on land and at sea, made up of eight sites, all in protected areas listed for their very great universal geological value. The territory as a whole lies on the borders of Italy, Monaco (for the maritime part) and France and includes the Alpi Marittime-Mercantour European Park, Marguareis Nature Park, Alpi Liguri Nature Park, the Natura 2000 sites in Provincia di Imperia, the Alpes-Maritimes département and the Principality of Monaco.

Its outstanding universal geological nature shaped the great wealth of its landscapes, covering 211,577 hectares.

The Mediterranean Alps’ candidature as a Nature Property is based on tectonic geology to justify listing as a prestigious UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Marittime-Mercantour / Mediterranean Alps Cross-Border Area is on the tentative list for the French, Italian and Monegasque States as a UNESCO Nature Property.

Partners in the Mediterranean Alps’ candidature are:

for France:

  • Alpes-Maritimes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Departmental Councils,
  • PACA Region,
  • Mercantour National Park

for Italy:

  • Parco Naturale Alpi Marittime,
  • Parco Naturale del Marguareis,
  • Parco Naturale Alpi Liguri,
  • Provincia di Imperia.

for the Principality of Monaco:

  • Albert II of Monaco Foundation,
  • Monegasque government.

Cross-border management of the project is entrusted to the Alpi Marittime-Mercantour European Nature Park EGTC, which signed conventions with all partners.

The ambitious UNESCO label implies no changes in the status of these territories.

The responsibility resulting from such global recognition, however, implies more specific long-term management for these protected areas.

The reputation of a listed site obviously implies much greater visibility for its scientific assets and geological attributes in the case of the Mediterranean Alps, with larger numbers of national and international visitors.

More important, this distinction will help develop quality tourism, respectful of conservation of the listed Natural Area.

By putting it in the international spotlight, UNESCO listing will boost the site’s economy, which also implies a commitment to guaranteeing the Site’s protection, integrity and continuity and its universal character.

The UNESCO World Heritage label should help strengthen protection of listed sites, better share them as widely as possible and boost the local economy for surrounding populations by enabling them to participate in the appropriation and exploitation of the Property’s resources, while guaranteeing its integrity and, in the long term, leaving it intact to future generations.

Thus, the actions to be implemented in the management of a listed site require considerable financial commitment on all levels: local, regional, European or Fund du World Heritage.

The total budget currently amounts to some €500,000

This includes scientific research costs for expert assessment of the Property, the communication and valorisation campaign and managing the project.

Today, funding is from the Alcotra Cross-Border Cooperation Programme (European fund), the Principality of Monaco, the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Council, the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence Departmental Council, contributions from EGTC partners and the PACA Region.

The backers of the “Mediterranean Alps” UNESCO project are also actively looking for sponsors; Allianz France is one of the project’s sponsors.

You can support this candidature for UNESCO World Heritage status by liking our Facebook page Les Alpes de la Méditerranée, or sending your donations to

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