Bai Chunli Signs Agreement on New Centre with UNESCO


On June 2nd, 2011, Bai Chunli, President of CAS, signed an agreement establishing the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) on behalf of the Chinese Government. This is the first centre established by UNESCO applying space technologies to monitor and conserve UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage Sites. It is also the first agency under the auspices of UNESCO to be hosted by CAS. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, had previously signed the agreement on behalf of UNESCO on May 27th.

More and more attention has been paid to the application of space technologies to the monitoring and conversation of world heritage sites. As the leading international organization responsible for World Heritage Sites, UNESCO started the “Open Initiative on the Use of Space Technologies to Support the World Heritage Convention” in collaboration with the European Space Agency in 2001. In the same year, the Joint Laboratory of Remote Sensing for Archaeology (JLRSA), affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Ministry of Education, and the China State Administration of Cultural Relics, was officially established and joined the Open Initiative as a partner in 2005.

Based on years of work, CAS made a proposal to UNESCO in May 2007 to establish HIST in Beijing. The feedback from UNESCO was positive and a feasibility study was conducted. Then in April 2008, the feasibility report on establishing HIST went through the examination of the 179th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board, was finally approved by the 35th General Conference of UNESCO in October 2009, and was officially ratified by the State Council of China in April 2011.

HIST is hosted by Aerospace Information Research Institute (AIR), Chinese Academy of Sciences. AIR can provide important technical support to UNESCO by taking advantage of its Earth observation capacities and professional resources. The establishment of the centre will contribute greatly to the study of world heritage, global climate change, natural disasters and biosphere reserves. It will also be of great help in building the capacity of Chinese scientists in related fields.

HIST plans to hold its first session of the Committee of Chinese Experts in late June 2011, and then the first session of the Governing Board and the Inauguration Ceremony in late July 2011. 

Bai Chunli, President of CAS, signs the agreement on behalf of the Chinese Government Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, signs the agreement on behalf of UNESCO

Irina Bokova, (right), Director-General of UNESCO, and SHI Shuyun, (left), China Ambassador for UNESCO