Earlier this week, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens was awarded the prestigious distinction as a World Heritage Site. There are over 1000 honoured sites but this is the first such distinction for Singapore and we couldn’t be prouder!
The elite designation means that the Botanic Gardens have demonstrated “outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/faq/). One step into the Singapore Botanic Gardens and you know, this is certainly a worthy addition.
Not to be confused with the Wonders of the World (natural and man-made), World Heritage Sites can also be natural or man-made but are recognized for their importance and therefore deserving of special protection. There are several factors the committee uses to define the importance of a nominated place but once approved, they can receive special funding to help in the preservation.
As expats living in an adopted home, it is a privilege to witness such a significant honour. But beyond that, the Botanic Gardens as a newly appointed World Heritage site is a wonderful reminder that we live in an increasingly global community. While Singapore might not be your “home” country, we no longer live in isolation.
World Heritage sites remain the property of the country on whose territory it is located, “but it is considered in the interest of the international community to protect the site for future generations. Its protection and preservation becomes a concern of the international World Heritage community as a whole” (http://whc.unesco.org/en/faq/).
It’s easy to sometimes get caught up in the minor day to day struggles and triumphs of living abroad and there are certainly days when our differences can seem impossible to ignore. We live in one of the smallest but most ethnically diverse places in the world.
The news of the Singapore Botanic Gardens being appointed as a World Heritage Site is a great way to feel more connected not only to Singapore but to one another. We are all part of the same whole. We are all responsible for each other’s wellness no matter where we consider home, what language we speak or what religion we practice.
Whether it’s the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Egyptian pyramids or the Great Wall of China, these sites help us to remember that the world is becoming less “yours” and “mine” and more “ours.” Let’s not forget to act in kind.
P.S. The Straits Times has a great interactive site where you can learn more!
By Kathleen Siddell, July 2015