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UNESCO's GIS Implementation Strategy

Although the safeguarding of heritage has always been a central concern of UNESCO, the focus on the use of modern electronic and computer-based information technologies to support this work is a relatively new initiative.

UNESCO first used computer-aided tools for archaeological site management in 1992 in assisting the Cambodian government to preserve the world heritage site of Angkor. At Angkor, UNESCO used this technology to bring together fragmentary data from many sources, creating a data bank to guide restoration work on the monuments and to aid in the creation of an economic and human resource development plan for the devastated surrounding area.

The Angkor Zoning and Environment Management Plan, successfully used GIS to integrate data from the fields of achaeology, geology, hydrology, climatology, environmental science and demography together with plans being prepared for the development of agriculture, irrigation, road construction and tourism.

Following the success of Angkor, GIS has been used by UNESCO at other pilot sites at Hue (Viet Nam), Vat Phou and the Plain of Jars (Lao PDR) as well as sites in Europe, Australia and North America where others have also been developing GIS-related applications for natural and cultural site management. Find out more about these case studies in GIS and Cultural Resource Management: A Manual for Heritage Manager by Paul Box (UNESCO, 1999)



Future Strategy

UNESCO's GIS strategy focuses on three main areas: 

  • Provision of GIS training and awareness programmes for heritage management professionals
  • Networking of World Heritage Site GIS users to facilitate the exchange of ideas, mutual support and technology transfer 
  • Securing support and sponsorship from the private sector and from government agencies for the provision of GIS software, remote sensing data and technical support/input.