Department for Culture Media and Sport

world heritage

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for the UK’s general compliance with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention and for nominating sites.

The World Heritage Convention

The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention was ratified by the UK in 1984. The Convention provides for the identification, protection, conservation and presentation of cultural and natural sites of “outstanding universal value”.

The World Heritage Committee is made up of 21 state party members, elected for a four year term. Among the Committee’s responsibilities is the decision on inscribing state party nominations to the World Heritage List. As of July 2011, 936 properties have been accorded World Heritage status.

UK World Heritage Sites

The UK currently has 28 World Heritage Sites.

The Nomination Process

Individual national governments are responsible for nominating sites in their country from a Tentative List of Future Nominations.

After a nomination is presented there is an 18 month period of evaluation by one of UNESCO’s expert advisers – The International Union for Conservation of Nature for natural nominations and the International Council on Monuments and Sites for cultural ones – before a final decision is made by the World Heritage Committee at its annual meeting.

UK Tentative List

Following a public consultation, World Heritage for the Nation: Identifying, Protecting and Promoting Our World Heritage, the UK’s Tentative List was reviewed. Applications were assessed by an independent Expert Panel and Ministers announced the new Tentative List in March 2011.

Sites on the Tentative List which wanted to go forward straight away with a nomination to UNESCO were invited to complete a Technical Evaluation by 9 April 2012. The Technical Evaluations which came forward were assessed by an Expert Group. DCMS has announced which sites have been invited to prepare a full submission to UNESCO. The next round of Technical Evaluations will be in the autumn of 2013


WHS status in the UK does not bring any financial awards from the Government or UNESCO, although it can attract indirect funding from other sources such as The Lottery and the private sector. The UK contributes around £130,000 to the Committee’s World Heritage Fund every year. However only developing countries can apply to the World Heritage Fund for assistance.