In 1972, the United States proposed the World Heritage Convention to the international community as the global expression of the national park idea. The U.S. was the first nation to ratify the Convention. Twenty-one natural or cultural heritage sites in the U.S. are recognized for their outstanding universal value in the Convention's World Heritage List.
In his September 12, 2012 presentation, Jonathan B. Tourtellot explained what the World Heritage Program is, how sites are selected for the List, and why World Heritage listings benefit both the U.S. and its international partners. By promoting “geotourism,” a term Tourtellot has coined to describe sustainable visitation that supports and improves natural and cultural resources, he believes the World Heritage Program can help preserve significant areas throughout the world. In his talk, Tourtellot celebrated the role the United States played in creating this important program, and called for continuing U.S. leadership.
Image: The Grand Canyon was added to the World Heritage List in 1979. Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service.