The A To Z Of Southeast Asia – U


The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is an UN organisation aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture.

World Heritage Sites

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention. They are designated as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance and are considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

To be given World Heritage Site status it must be a unique landmark which is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance.

There are currently 41 World Heritage Sites within Southeast Asia:

  • Cambodia – 3 sites including Angkor Archaeological Park
  • Indonesia – 9 sites including Komodo National Park
  • Laos – 3 sites including the town of Luang Prabang
  • Malaysia – 4 sites including Melaka and George Town, Hitoric Cities of the Straits of Malacca
  • Myanmar – 2 sites including Pyu Ancient Cities
  • Philippines – 6 sites including the Baroque Churches of the Philippines
  • Singapore – Singapore Botanic Gardens
  • Thailand – 5 sites including the Historic City of Ayutthaya
  • Vietnam – 8 sites including Ha Long Bay

Biosphere Reserves

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves promote solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use. They are learning areas for sustainable development under diverse ecological, social and economic contexts, touching the lives of more than 250 million people.

There are currently 714 biosphere reserves in 129  countries, including 21 transboundary sites. In Southeast Asia there are currently 24 sites:

  • Cambodia – 1 site in Tonle Sap
  • Indonesia – 5 sites including Rinjani-Lombok Biosphere Reserve
  • Malaysia – 2 sites including Crocker Range
  • Philippines – 3 sites including Palawan
  • Thailand – 4 sites including Ranong
  • Vietnam – 9 sites including Cat Ba

Global Geoparks

UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development.

Their bottom-up approach of combining conservation with sustainable development while involving local communities is becoming increasingly popular.

At present, there are 169 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 44 countries.

  • Malaysia – Langkawi
  • Indonesia – 6 sites including Batur
  • Vietnam – 3 sites including Dong Van Karst Plateau

Main picture by Federico Enni on Unsplash

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