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China to Establish First International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage with UNESCO

2011-06-13 00:00:00 / english.cas.cn

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Professor BAI Chunli, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), signed an agreement on June 2nd establishing the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (WHIST) on behalf of the Chinese Government.

This is the first centre established by UNESCO applying space technologies to monitor and conserve UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage Sites. It is also the first centre under the auspices of UNESCO to be hosted by CAS.

WHIST is hosted by and built on the premises of the Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences(CEODE). CEODE will provide important technical support to UNESCO by taking advantage of its Earth observation capacities and professional resources. The establishment of the centre will contribute greatly to the study of world heritage, global climate change, natural disasters and biosphere reserves.

BAI Chunli, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, signs the agreement on behalf of the Chinese Government (Image by CEODE)

More and more attention has been paid to the application of space technologies on the monitoring and conversation of world heritage sites. As the leading international organization responsible for World Heritage Sites, UNESCO started the ˇ°Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technologies to Support the World Heritage Conventionˇ± in collaboration with the European Space Agency in 2001. In the same year, the Joint Laboratory of Remote Sensing for Archaeology (JLRSA), affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Ministry of Education, and the State Administration of Cultural Relics, was officially established and joined the Open Initiative as a partner in 2005.

Based on years of work, CAS made a proposal to UNESCO in May 2007 to establish WHIST in Beijing and got approval by the 35th General Conference of UNESCO in October 2009. In the April of 2011, WHIST was ratified by the Government of China.

WHIST will hold its first session of the Committee of Chinese Experts in late June 2011.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, had previously signed the agreement on behalf of UNESCO on May 27th.

(Written by CAS)

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