The Singapore Botanic Gardens becomes Singapore's First UNESCO World Heritage Site
04 Jul 2015
Singapore, 4 July 2015 – The Singapore Botanic Gardens (the Gardens) has been conferred the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Germany, Bonn. The WHC announced the Gardens’ successful inscription on 4 July 2015 at approximately 5.40pm (UTC +08:00). The 21-member Committee unanimously adopted the recommendation by the International Council of Monuments and Sites to inscribe the Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and this was witnessed by representatives of the 191 State Parties to the 1972 World Heritage Convention. The 39th WHC session in Bonn runs from 28 June to 8 July 2015.
Leading the Singapore delegation is Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Chairman of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO. Mr Wong said: “Across the entire world, there are just over 1,000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are exceptional treasures for all of humanity to cherish. Now in our little red dot, we have the honour and privilege of being home to one of these world treasures. It’s something quite remarkable that all of us, as Singaporeans, can be proud of. This is a very special Jubilee Gift for Singapore, and I’m very happy to be able to bring back the good news to share with all Singaporeans!”
In order to be inscribed on the renowned UNESCO World Heritage List, the Gardens must first prove that it has outstanding universal value, integrity and authenticity, and is equipped with a Site Management Plan to ensure future preservation of the site. After a presentation by ICOMOS of its evaluation of the Gardens, the floor was opened to the Committee Members for comments. 21 members of the Committee spoke up in unanimous support of the adoption of the recommendation. Following this, Vice Chairperson of the 39th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, H.E. Ms Ruchira Kamboj, proceeded to declare the Singapore Botanic Gardens inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Minister Lawrence Wong was then invited to deliver Singapore’s statement.
Mrs Rosa Daniel, CEO of NHB, and Secretary-General of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO, says: “The process of putting up Singapore’s inaugural bid to inscribe the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was a rigorous one, but we are all elated that all the hard work by the many parties involved has paid off. This would not have been possible without the collaboration of government agencies, experts, community groups and the public. Our collective efforts have been recognised by the international community, and the successful inscription acknowledges Singapore’s continued commitment to commemorating and preserving our cultural heritage. The listing of the Singapore Botanic Gardens as a World Heritage Site is especially meaningful as a lasting commemoration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary year.”
The Gardens joins the more than 1,000 sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It is the first in Asia and is the third botanic gardens inscribed in the world following Orto botanico di Padova and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It is the first and only tropical botanical gardens on the list. The Gardens was amongst other newly inscribed World Heritage Sites such as Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jordan’s Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas), Saudi Arabia’s Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia, and Italy’s Arab-Norman Palermo and the Catholic Churches of Cefalú and Monreale.
Mr Kenneth Er, CEO of NParks, says: “We are thrilled that the Singapore Botanic Gardens is the first Botanic Gardens in Asia to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We are committed to sustaining Singapore’s green legacy through the Gardens’ site management plan. In fact we have already set in place some of the measures such as the expansion of the Gardens’ Nature Area and protection of the Gardens’ centuries-old Heritage Trees. It is also symbolic that our nation’s first World Heritage Site has been instrumental in the greening of Singapore. In the late 1960s, the Gardens’ staff were involved in supplying the plants and trees for our roadsides and parks to create the pervasive greenery that make Singapore a City in a Garden. Today, the Gardens remains a centre for research, conservation and education of regional and international importance, and tranquil oasis for recreation. We hope that Singaporeans will join us in celebrating the successful inscription and continue taking pride in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.”
 The delegation included Mr Andrew Toh, Singapore’s Non-Resident Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO; Mrs Rosa Daniel, Deputy Secretary (Culture), MCCY, Chief Executive Officer, NHB and Secretary-General of the Singapore National Commission for UNESCO; Mr Kenneth Er, Chief Executive Officer, NParks; Ms Jean Wee, Director, Preservation of Sites and Monuments, NHB and Dr Nigel Taylor, Director, Singapore Botanic Gardens. These agencies have been working closely together on the bid since 2010 with experts, academics and heritage and environment groups from the community.