World Heritage Center – initiative on the heritage of astronomy, science and technology

Implementation activities

Thematic activities

The preparation of a global thematic study of the heritage of science and technology, including studies and research on technological heritage related to the exploration of space, requires the implementation of a series of thematic studies by segments of the scientific and technological heritage.

Segment 1
Astronomy and World Heritage

Two first thematic studies, jointly carried out by ICOMOS and Commission C4 of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), provide the background for a comparative analysis that could be carried out to assess the outstanding universal value of a particular site of the same type that has been proposed for inclusion in the World Heritage Site.

The first thematic study (2010):

  • identifies the main characteristics and astronomical values ​​of the generic heritage type from a world heritage point of view;
  • examines a selected number of representative examples, whether or not on the World Heritage List;
  • determines possible gaps in the latter and,
  • With reference to the operational guidelines, the criteria are given by which such sites could be nominated for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

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The second thematic study (2017):

  • examines in detail unsolved problems raised in the first study through case studies structured as segments of draft dossiers;
  • provides guidance on properties that could have a strong right to be included on national tentative lists;
  • Provides guidance to States parties and stakeholders when the property is believed to have the ability to demonstrate OUV; and
  • considers the properties of the dark sky in detail; While dark sky locations may not be recognized as specific types or categories of World Heritage, dark sky cultural or natural values ​​can enhance the natural or cultural value of a place (or both) and, in that sense, contribute to a potential OUV.

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Download and read the thematic studies

Segment 2
History of Aerospace /
Space technological heritage

The idea to start studies and research on the technological heritage related to space exploration in line with the global strategy for a balanced, representative and credible World Heritage List arose in 2007. In 2009 a proposal was made to define categories of space technological sites, including in the Kazan resolution adopted by the participants of the International Conference organized during the United Nations International Year of Astronomy (Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation, 2009).

The first international meeting of experts on space technological heritage, jointly organized by the World Heritage Center and COSPAR, took place during the 40th COSPAR Scientific Assembly (Moscow, Russian Federation, 2014). The main objective of the meeting was to establish a collaboration between the World Heritage Center, specialized agencies and relevant interdisciplinary scientific initiatives to develop studies and research on technological heritage related to the exploration of space.

An international expert meeting “Cultural heritage potential of places in the history of aerospace” was organized by the German Commission for UNESCO, the German Aerospace Center, ICOMOS Germany, TICCIH Germany and the Foundation of the German Technical Museum Berlin (Berlin , Germany, 2017). . Experts from France, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom discussed various locations related to the history of aerospace in their countries in a long-term perspective of their suitability for possible future transnational serial nominations as World Heritage Sites. [source https://whc.unesco.org/en/events/1370/ ;  https://whc.unesco.org/document/159969 ]

In 2018-2019, in collaboration with the HT2S Laboratory of Techno, initial research was carried out on issues of cultural heritage in places related to space exploration, including the case study “Baikonur Cosmodrom” / the project on participatory action research in the field of space technological heritage Science in Society (CNAM-Paris, France).

Organizing an international workshop on space technological heritage could provide an opportunity to assess and recognize the importance of this specific type of heritage in terms of enriching human history, promoting cultural diversity and developing international exchanges. It could help exchange information and create new partnerships with the aim of promoting and protecting the technological heritage related to space exploration and developing all the necessary mechanisms to protect our common heritage. A pilot project “Heritage of Science and Technology: World Heritage Potential of Space Technology” is available to the contracting states, partners and donors on the marketplace for the world heritage for financial support.

Case studies
Scientific city institutions

In 2019, a joint mission of the World Heritage Center and the ICOMOS consulting company visited the city’s scientific institution of the physiologist IP Pavlov, one of the components of the World Heritage “Historic Center of Saint Petersburg and Related Monuments”.

The site is located within the boundaries of component 540-032 (Koltushskaya Elevation) and the protection zone of component 540-021 (City Scientific Institution of Physiologist IP Pavlov) on the territory of Koltushi Municipality, Vsevolozhskiy District of Leningrad Region. The scientific city was built in the early 1930s under the direction of the first Russian Nobel Prize winner, IP Pavlov. A very active group of scientists is working to revitalize the Pavlov Institute of Physiology and create an international research center that will become a central hub for the exchange of ideas and experiences between professionals in the field of integrative physiology.

The Mission invited the Director of the Pavlov Institute of Physiology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the construction manager of this component to include a round in the program of one of the next international conferences organized with the participation of the Institute -table and / or Panel discussion on the protection and management of the scientific heritage.

The mission recommended the establishment of one thematic network of site managers of the properties with associated scientific values ​​in order to develop specific provisions and regulations for the protection of the scientific heritage and to integrate them into the management plans of the properties. [source – mission report]

Network of contact points and partners

In accordance with the decision of the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018), the World Heritage Center circularly requested all contracting states to update the contact information of their relevant focal points / institutions to implement the renamed initiative on the heritage of astronomy, science and technology at national level Level.

A first round table held during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019) discussed the implementation of the Thematic Initiative on the Heritage of Astronomy, Science and Technology (HAST) and exchanged information and best practices for nominating scientific sites.

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