2022 World Monuments Watch Announced
25 Selected Places Call for Mobilization to Safeguard Heritage Facing Global Challenges, Including:
- The impacts of climate change, which are threatening coastal heritage of the Maldives, the mosques of Bagerhat in Bangladesh, among other irreplaceable sites across the globe
- Heritage of underrepresented groups in Cambodia and the U.S. seeking greater protections for ancestral territories from resource extraction and desecration
- The effects of imbalanced tourism at well-known destinations, such as Teotihuacan, Mexico, and lesser-known sites like Abydos in Egypt that would benefit from greater visibility
- Crisis recovery in Benghazi’s Historic City Center and the Heritage Buildings of Beirut in critical need of revitalization
World Monuments Fund (WMF) today announced the 2022 World Monuments Watch, a selection of 25 heritage sites of extraordinary cultural significance facing global challenges and whose preservation is urgent and vital to local communities. These sites illuminate the effects of global issues such as climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, underscoring the need for greater action to support heritage places and the people who care for them. Reflecting WMF’s expanded commitment to addressing these challenges through preservation approaches, the Watch not only brings awareness to pressures on heritage places but is the impetus for developing new field projects that provide local solutions with global relevance.
Launched in 1996 with founding sponsor American Express, the Watch is announced every two years and includes sites nominated by individuals and community-based organizations that span the globe. The 2022 open call resulted in more than 225 nominations that underwent extensive internal and external review by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and an independent panel of international heritage experts responsible for the final selection. Since the program’s inception, the Watch has been a proven tool for raising awareness about heritage places in need of protection and galvanizing action and support for their preservation. To date, WMF has contributed more than $110 million toward projects at more than 300 Watch sites, with the visibility provided by the Watch helping communities leverage an additional $300 million from other sources.
Representing 24 countries and spanning nearly 12,000 years of history, the 2022 Watch encompasses a broad range of examples of how global challenges manifest and intersect at heritage sites, providing opportunities to improve the lives of communities as they adapt for the future. Dramatic examples of sea level rise at places such as the Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery (Maldives) give warning about the fate of coastal heritage, while the potential to respond to climate-induced water scarcity by leveraging traditional knowledge and historic infrastructure is explored at the Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) and the Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape (Peru). Gaining recognition for heritage and advocating for community stewardship, truth-telling, and healing are central to calls seeking to protect Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home (Australia) and Garcia Pasture (U.S.). Elsewhere, the effects of imbalanced tourism can be seen at the popular destination of Teotihuacan (Mexico), where nearby residents are excluded from economic benefit, and at the Fortified Manors of Yongtai (China) and Abydos (Egypt), which present untapped opportunity for sustainable tourism.
The 2022 Watch reinforces WMF’s commitment to championing community-led recovery in the aftermath of crisis. The inclusion of Heritage Buildings of Beirut (Lebanon), which experienced a devastating blast in 2020 that damaged hundreds of buildings within its historic core, encourages support for cooperative efforts to rebuild while safeguarding its history. Benghazi’s Historic City Center (Libya) is also spotlighted for the potential for public space revitalization to serve as a catalyst for broader recovery and resilience amid ongoing conflict.
“This year’s Watch demonstrates that heritage preservation can offer innovative solutions to contemporary global challenges,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund. “We urge the world to stand with communities and save these places of extraordinary cultural significance. Heritage sites are an incredible resource for addressing larger issues facing society as well as local needs of recognition, access, participation, and economic opportunity.”
The full selection of 2022 Watch sites is available online here, with elaboration on themes and select sites below.
Climate change will continue to intensify, causing damage to homes, communities, and treasured heritage places around the world, while also impacting reliable access to water. The 2022 Watch sites that speak to this challenge demonstrate current impacts and the need to measure, adapt, and build resilience in the years to come:
- Hurst Castle (United Kingdom), a fortress built under Henry VIII that suffered partial collapse in 2021 can help draw attention to the impact of climate change on coastal heritage through continued monitoring;
- Mosque City of Bagerhat (Bangladesh), the impressive religious landscape of ancient Khalifatabad requires effective climate adaptation to ensure its survival and continued service to the community of modern day Bagerhat;
- Hitis (Water Fountains) of the Kathmandu Valley (Nepal), an extensive system of historic water distribution points and underground channels needs mapping and maintenance to provide Kathmandu Valley communities with reliable access to clean water;
- Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery (Maldives), a historic waterfront cemetery with distinct coral-stone architecture highlights the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for adaptive preservation solutions;
- Yanacancha-Huaquis Cultural Landscape (Peru), where ancient pre-Inca water management systems and sustainable tourism planning are crucial for an Andean community to adapt to climate change and provide local economic benefit.
Many celebrated historic places and monuments are reflections of power and privilege that fail to represent the complete human experience. A number of 2022 Watch sites serve to amplify community voices and disseminate new narratives that contribute to telling a richer, more balanced story:
- La Maison du Peuple, Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), an important landmark and unique example of African modernism whose rehabilitation can enhance public life and foster civic pride;
- Cultural Landscape of the Bunong People (Cambodia), traditional structures and ancestral lands require mapping and documentation to support the Indigenous Bunong people in protecting territory against intense development;
- Garcia Pasture (U.S.), the traditional territory of the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas threatened by natural resource extraction and desecration of ancestral lands requires formal legal recognition to ensure its future;
- Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home (Australia), this former government institution for Aboriginal boys forcibly taken from their families is central to a survivor-led effort to transform the site into a place of truth-telling and healing.
While well-known destinations are often overwhelmed with visitors, overlooked sites struggle to maintain operations and generate revenue. These heritage places offer the opportunity to develop sustainable tourism strategies aimed at recalibrating the impacts of visitation and supporting a better quality of life for local residents:
- Abydos (Egypt), a site infrequently visited by tourists despite its cultural importance is in critical need of preservation, planning, and community engagement to preserve its history as the ancient cult center for Osiris, ruler of the kingdom of the dead;
- Africatown (U.S.), a historic Alabama community established by formerly enslaved Africans seeks to leverage a recent archaeological discovery to protect their homes and call for environmental justice;
- Lamanai (Belize), an international tourist destination encompassing an ancient Maya city where community involvement in heritage management can help reinforce the relationship between the site and local residents;
- Teotihuacan (Mexico), the iconic archaeological park is able to address economic challenges facing surrounding communities through more inclusive tourism planning and visitor management.
Images (from left to right): Koagannu Mosques and Cemetery (Maldives); Cultural Landscape of the Bunong People (Cambodia); Teotihuacan (Mexico); Heritage Buildings of Beirut (Lebanon)
About World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society.
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Chelsea Beroza, Alex Klimoski, Lucy Duda