World heritage sites are places that are important to and belong to everyone, irrespective of where they are located. They have universal value that transcends the value they hold for a particular nation. These qualities are expressed in the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention).

The World Heritage Convention aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage from around the world that is of such outstanding universal value that its conservation is important for current and future generations.

The world heritage list
World heritage sites that are nominated for World Heritage listing are inscribed on the list only after they have been carefully assessed as representing the best examples of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Australia currently has 17 properties on the World Heritage List.

World heritage listing process
Only the Australian Government can nominate Australian places for entry on this list. The World Heritage Committee assesses nominated places against set criteria and makes the final decision as to the places that are included on the World Heritage List.

World heritage criteria
To qualify for inscription on the World Heritage List, nominated properties must have values that are outstanding and universal. The Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention provide guidance to the World Heritage Committee in deciding which nominations should be included on the List. These guidelines state that nominations should be based on cultural, natural and/or mixed cultural and natural criteria.

Implications of world heritage listing
There are many benefits to a property being inscribed on the World Heritage List, including increased tourist visitation, increases in employment opportunities and income for local communities, and better management and protection of the place. Listing is often accompanied by greater scrutiny of a place, given its internationally acknowledged importance.

Management of australia’s world heritage listed places
A variety of management arrangements are in place or planned for each Australian property on the World Heritage List.

Further information is available here.