SPIEGEL: Last week, among others, Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt and two sections of Limes Received the UNESCO World Heritage Prize. Only Italy has more UNESCO heritage sites. Is there really more to see in Germany than in China or Greece?
Rossler: You can’t say it like that. China and Italy counted more overall World Heritage Sites. Germany simply signed the World Heritage Convention too soon, campaigned to protect cultural property and submitted nominations relatively early. In some European countries, there has been no effective protection of cultural property since the Convention entered into force in 1975 UNESCO I had to enforce these laws in many places. Nominations may be submitted only when the state has established the legal basis for the protection of things at the national level. In addition, Germany is currently involved in many locations and cross-border cooperation.
SPIEGEL: The latest awarded sites also include German Spas Baden-Baden, Bad Ems and Bad Kissingen. What talk about these places from everywhere?
Rossler: Sites from other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Belgium, Austria and France have also been recognized as a common site in this context. The idea was to highlight the most important spa towns that have grown historically. It is not about Germany, but about the phenomenon of European spas and Europe as an element of contact.
SPIEGEL: For the first time, UNESCO Jewish cultural property Recognized as a World Heritage Site in Germany. The cities of Mainz, Worms and Speyer were considered. Should the elections be understood as a signal against emerging anti-Semitism?
Rossler: I come from Speyer myself and know how unique the best preserved ritual bath north of the Alps is. But inclusion in the World Heritage is preceded by years of preparation with many experts, and this is not a spontaneous reaction to current events or discussions. We do not know exactly in advance in what year the registration will be successful. However, this recording was very important because it is a category that has hitherto been underrepresented, also compared to Christian heritage – we have, for example, 19 Gothic cathedrals on our UNESCO list.
SPIEGEL: World Heritage sites are found primarily in Europe – rarely in African countries. How is that
Rossler: Generally speaking, there are very few orders from African, Arab and South American countries. My work at UNESCO is primarily to raise funds to preserve the sites. Much of it went to African countries to help them prepare for their World Heritage nominations. For this purpose, the African World Heritage Fund has been established, the African World Heritage Fund, which is responsible for all African countries and offers courses to specifically support individual countries with nominations and conservation. But there is one thing you must not forget: there are still vast areas of conflict in many African countries, such as Mali. Often people have other concerns and states simply do not have the time to prepare World Heritage nominations.
SPIEGEL: Critics have been talking about the inflated UNESCO world heritage for a long time. As a result, the individual site becomes less important.
Rossler: The World Heritage Committee advised the countries most often represented not to file each year, but to leave room for other countries with fewer awards. This was not taken seriously, especially in Europe. If it was up to me personally, I’d turn the list off for now so we can all focus on keeping it. There is always money for nominations, not protection.
SPIEGEL: You mean that more sites should not be included?
Rossler: As I said, we should rather take care of preserving the already excellent world heritage. Many countries with major structural and financial problems are unable to take care of their World Heritage sites. Part of it is breaking before our eyes. Think climate change, think about locations in conflict zones.
SPIEGEL: To what extent Climate change World Heritage sites?
Rossler: There are more and more disasters such as forest fires or floods, which can become a great danger. For example, coral reefs in Australia, Belize and Seychelles, all of which are listed as natural heritage sites, are severely threatened. That’s why we also have the Great Barrier Reef in Australia Suggested list of risksBut the Australian government didn’t like it. We have indicated that the Australian government can do more to improve water quality and thus protect coral reefs. We have just developed a policy document on climate change. In November, there will be a meeting of all 194 countries that have signed the World Heritage Convention. This document will be approved there. This is very important because we assume that it will allow the country to implement our climate goals more quickly.