First Minister highlights Wales' contribution to UNESCO through its World Heritage Sites

Tuesday 19 May 2015

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones welcomed the significant contribution the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) makes to the Welsh economy.

Picture of Carwyn Jones speaking at the UNESCO event

Carwyn Jones speaking at the UNESCO event

At the event at the Pierhead in Cardiff Bay, the First Minister alongside representatives from Wales’ 13 UNESCO Designations, joined Assembly Members and representatives from the UK’s national coordinating body for UNESCO to welcome the value of UNESCO to Wales and Wales to UNESCO.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said, “From castles in North Wales to centres of industrial innovation in the South, the World Heritage Sites of Wales are of huge global importance.

“Whilst these sites reflect the rich cultural heritage of our beautiful country, they also play an important role in the Welsh economy, attracting visitors from around the world, giving a big boost to our economy. It’s for this reason it’s so important we preserve these fantastic sites for future generations as they showcase the cultural heritage and outstanding beauty of this country.”

Wales is home to 13 UNESCO Designations and these include:
•        three World Heritage Sites (Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal in Trevor, Wrexham , Blaenavon Industrial Landscape in Torfaen and the Castles and Town Walls of Edward I in Gwynedd in Gwynedd, Conwy, and Isle of Anglesey),
•        one Biosphere Reserve (Biosffer Dyfi Biosphere)
•        two Global Geoparks (Fforest Fawr Geopark in the Brecon Beacons and the Geo Mon Geopark in Amlwch, Anglesey).

The reception explored the value these UNESCO Designations bring to Wales. The reception discussed the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s report The Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK 2012 – 2013 which reveals that UNESCO membership has generated economic, social and environmental benefits to the Designation and for Wales more broadly.

Case Study: The Blaenavon Industrial World Heritage Site was illustrated as a case study during the conference and was mentioned in the Wider Value of UNESCO to the UK 2012 - 2013 report:

Faced with a serious decline in coal mining and related industries in Blaenavon in the 1990s, a partnership of the local council and 12 other organisations developed an economic regeneration strategy for the town based on its exceptional industrial heritage. The aim was to make it a key destination for cultural tourism. The rapid implementation of the strategy was made possible by UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) status, which was achieved in 2000.

Benefits of World Heritage Status include increased visitor numbers from around 100,000 per year to over 200,000 per year since achieving WHS status, generating an estimated £2.4 million a year for the local economy, as well as increased interest from funders. In 2012 Blaenavon Industrial World Heritage Site received £500,000 of investment from Rhymney Brewery to develop a micro-brewery, visitor area and facilities. The brewery stated that the UNESCO designation enhanced the profile of their product and was a key reason behind their investment decision.

Gary Brace, the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Vice-Chair said, "We are delighted that the First Minister, Assembly Members and Wales's UNESCO sites came to celebrate the value that UNESCO brings to Wales and that Wales brings to UNESCO. The UK National Commission for UNESCO has been pleased to work through its network of experts in Wales to provide policy advice to the Welsh Government, including the Commission’s submissions to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. We look forward to strengthening further our relationships with our UNESCO family in Wales to bring the full benefits of UNESCO to Wales".