The 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, Baku

We arrived in Baku (capital of Azerbaijan) on Thursday and spent a lot of Friday finding our feet. The World Heritage Committee meeting is being held in the Baku Congress Centre, one of the city’s many dramatic and flamboyant buildings.

The region has been a large oil producer for many years and Baku is the only metropolis in Azerbaijan.

The World Heritage Committee is made up of representatives of the ‘state parties’ (countries) that are signatories to the World Heritage Treaty. This is the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (it meets every year) and, as usual, the session agenda was agreed many months in advance.

Alongside the main Committee meeting, there is also a huge number of side sessions and exhibitions, most of which run in the middle of the day. We were speaking at one of these today (Saturday), on how to balance the needs of research with the protection of science heritage (and providing opportunities for people to engage with both research and heritage).

There is also a very tempting selection of ‘cultural programme’ visits in the area. (Unfortunately we weren’t able to take one of the ‘cultural programme’ trips to see the Baku Mud volcanoes. However, it turned out that tourists are only allowed to get close to the less exuberant ones, rather than the ones that explode columns of fire high above the landscape – so we didn’t really mind).

Now, we are in the main congress hall for the World Heritage Committee session (right)

We’re waiting for them to reach the point on the Agenda where they discuss the nomination of Jodrell Bank Observatory. It’s quite nerve-wracking, to be honest, after almost 10 years’ work on the process!

We think that it will happen tomorrow (Sunday) so are crossing fingers and toes in hope!

If you’d like to watch the World Heritage Committee session live, there is a link here.

Watch this space!

Teresa Anderson & Tim O’Brien

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Journey to Baku… and the World Heritage Committee