German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO World Heritage Convention) (1972)

Logo of the World Heritage Convention

Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (WHC)

Contracting parties:

193 (as of February 2018), Germany has been a party since 1976.


By joining this convention, adopted by the member states of UNESCO, contracting states commit themselves to protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage considered to be of outstanding universal value to humanity.


The key instrument of the convention is the World Heritage List, in which such cultural and natural properties are inscribed that meet the criteria of the associated operational guidelines. Cultural and natural properties may include: unique natural and cultural landscapes, geological formations, monuments, or historic urban landscapes of outstanding universal value. Contracting states can apply for inclusion in the list of properties within their boundaries. They thereby recognize the global importance of these properties and oblige themselves to preserve them. Since 1992, cultural landscapes can also be recognized as world heritage sites. Furthermore, world heritage sites subject to particular threat and therefore in need of major conservation operations are listed in a second inventory, the List of World Heritage in Danger. The World Heritage Fund provides financial support to maintain and preserve sites.

The World Heritage List currently comprises 1031 sites in 163 states. Of these, 802 are cultural properties, 197 are natural properties and 31 are "Mixed Sites" inscribed both as cultural and natural world heritage sites. Of the 40 world heritage sites in Germany, three count among the natural properties (The Waddensea, the "Messel Fossil Pit" in Hesse and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany); the other 37 are cultural world heritage sites.


World Heritage Centre, UNESCO
7, Place de Fontenoy
75352 Paris 07 SP, France
Tel.: 33 1 45 68 15 71
Fax: 33 1 45 68 55 70

BfN activities:

Production of expert opinions on plans by the German Länder to designate new world heritage sites; support for research projects to identify potential world heritage sites; participation in meetings of the World Heritage Committee.

Last Change: 10/04/2018