Blue and John Crow Mountains Make Prestigious World Heritage List

July 3, 2015 is a Historic day for Jamaica and Jamaican people as the renowned Blue and John Crow Mountains was inscribed to UNESCO’s Prestigious World Heritage List.

The inscription represents the first World Heritage site for Jamaica and the first mixed (cultural and natural) site for the Caribbean sub -region. It is one of only 32 mixed sites. Jamaica now joins the list of iconic sites such as the Great Wall of China, The Pyramids of Giza Egypt , The Taj Mahal of India and Acropolis of Athens, Great Barrier Reef Australia, as well as the Pitons in St. Lucia to name a few.

Addressing the World Heritage Committee following the unanimous decision, Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, expressed gratitude to the World Heritage Committee for recognizing the extraordinary natural and cultural values of the Blue and John Crow Mountains. According to Minister Hanna, “This has been quite a journey for us as a country. The experience has taught us many things, and among them, we have learnt to appreciate our distinctive natural and cultural heritage even more. You see Madam Chairman, there is a natural mystic that belies who we are as a county and as a people.

The WHC members noted that the site is a further example on how different UNESCO conventions can exist together, recognizing that the intangible heritage of the Moore Town Maroons, which is one of the maroon communities in the Blue and John Crow Mountains, was inscribed on the Intangible World Heritage List in 2009.

Also addressing the World Heritage Committee was Colonel of the Moore Town Maroons, Wallace Sterling who dedicated the prestigious listing to the maroons of Jamaica, “We know our ancestors are looking down on this moment, very proud that this universal prestige is being given to us, in part because they were selfless, committed, strong, cunning and resourceful persons who found ingenious ways to dismantle a system that blighted peoples of the region. Their efforts to put an end to one of the darkest periods of our history are what we acknowledge and celebrate as Maroons today. Importantly, we hail the legacy passed on to us by our ancestors – they have helped to shape our identity of self, and community.”

The Ministry of Youth and Culture and its agencies worked rigorously since 2013 by lobbying for a prestigious space as one of 21 countries to sit on the World Heritage Committee. Jamaica’s recognition at the global heritage table will be significantly elevated as the country’s cultural and natural heritage can now be measured according to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) managed by the Word Economic Forum.

The TTCI has as one of its pillars of measurement the number of World Heritage sites in a country. World Heritage status opens up new realms for Jamaica in areas of tourism, research, and the promotion of local based initiatives through the promotion of these areas. There are currently 1007 sites on the World Heritage List. Some 18 sites have been recommended for inscription to the List and are being deliberated during the 39th session of the WHC, June 28- July 8.