The World Heritage list

World Heritage: What?

In the world there is natural and cultural-historical site-specific heritage, which is particularly valuable and unique. We must therefore preserve it for future generations. This awareness motivated the people who drew up the World Heritage Treaty in 1972. The treaty was formed under the aegis of UNESCO, the United Nations organisation responsible for education, science and culture. In the meantime, nearly two hundred countries have signed. Including the Netherlands and Belgium.

Exceptional heritage is given a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Since the 1970s, there are more than a thousand sites. Countries that signed the World Heritage Treaty propose candidates from their own country to the World Heritage Committee in Paris. Every year, the committee decides which of the nominated sites will be included on the World Heritage list.

How does a site become World Heritage?

In order to qualify as world heritage, a site has to meet a number of conditions. It must be a monument, area or landscape with cultural-historical and/or natural value. The site must have a special universal value, and must also be irreplaceable and unique. This all has to be proven with a hefty nomination dossier.

The dossier of the Colonies of Benevolence was submitted in January 2017 by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the context of international cooperation between the Netherlands and Belgium. During the international convention in Bahrein in 2018, the World Heritage Comité decided to refer the nomination of the Colonies of Benevolence. In January 2020 the dossier of the Colonies was submitted again by the Kingdom of Belgium. 

World Heritage map

Here you can look at a map with all the sites on the World Heritage list that are in the Netherlands. Or surf to the official website of UNESCO (in English or French).

World Heritage in the Netherlands

You can find all Dutch sites on the World Heritage list on the World Heritage Foundation website.

World Heritage in Belgium

In Belgium there are several sites on the World Heritage list as well. For more information see or