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Strait of Messina: Gearing up for UNESCO designation

Published the 19 May 2015

Following on from the Strait of Kvarken, which already has designated status, and the Straits of Dover and Bonifacio, whose governing authorities are considering a similar strategy, the Strait of Messina is ready to join the adventure. On 17 April 2015, the mayors of Reggio Calabria, Messina and Villa San Giovanni boarded a boat to sign a protocol agreement, officially launching the process of seeking UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Their campaign is captured by the slogan "The Strait that Binds Us", and aims to portray the channel between the two regions as a feature of unification rather than one of division.

On 17 April 2015, the mayors of Reggio Calabria, Messina and Villa San Giovanni, accompanied by other mayors from regions around Southern Italy's Strait of Messina, gathered to sign a protocol agreement, officially launching the process of seeking UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. In doing so, political leaders on both sides of the strait have decided to focus on what their regions have in common, united in their belief that the strategy of political and economic integration building towards a common identity will bring opportunities for development in the region.

The protocol sets out a series of agreements in social and cultural domains, including transport, health and education, designed to instigate effective territorial integration across the region. It will serve to protect the natural, scenic, historical and archaeological sites around the strait. The “Agreement to Protect and Improve the Strait and Surrounding Areas" contains a number of commonly-held objectives including the positioning of the metropolitan area near the strait and surrounding districts, as part of the preparation of a strategic plan to be drawn up by the coordination committee. The agreement was entered into for 5 years, after which time the signatory parties will submit a joint evaluation report detailing activity and achievements within the scope of the initiative.

Following on from the Strait of Kvarken, which already has designated status, and the Straits Dover and Bonifacio, whose governing authorities are considering a similar strategy, the Strait of Messina is ready to join the adventure. Elsewhere, the Strait of Gibraltar was declared as an International Biosphere, another form of UNESCO designation. Overall, a wealth of related initiatives are appearing, indicating the potential for international recognition of the unique features of European straits.

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