A world heritage site is a unique cultural or natural environment that bears witness to the Earth’s human or natural history. In order to protect the most valuable of these sites from decay or destruction, the UNESCO convention on protection for the world’s cultural and natural heritage was drawn up at the UN’s general congress in 1972. Since then, agreements have been signed with over 180 nations who all thereby commit themselves to fulfil the demands and duties/responsibilities of the convention. By signing the UNESCO convention, these countries undertake to care for and protect important cultural and natural heritages within their own territory and to support other countries in their efforts to preserve our common world heritage.
Decisions concerning new world heritage sites are made by UNESCO’s world heritage committee, which consists of 21 delegations from 21 different countries. Today more than 800 places or objects are inscribed on the world heritage list. These are distributed over 141 different countries. In Sweden there are 14 world heritage sites.
There is no special law concerning world heritage sites. Administration of a heritage site is carried out in accordance with the laws that affect any physical environment, especially planning and building laws, environmental codes and cultural heritage legislation. According to the convention’s guidelines, world heritage sites must be protected and cared for continuously. They must be used and maintained so that the qualities upon which they qualified as world heritage sites are preserved.
Stockholm County contains three world heritage sites: Birka and Hovgården, Drottningholm and Skogskyrkogården.