Scotland's world-first Unesco trail will take people on an amazing cultural journey – Angus Robertson MSP

With growing threats to shared humanity, the need for international respect, understanding and cooperation has never been greater.

Edinburgh's Old Town, with the New Town, is a Unesco World Heritage Site (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)
Edinburgh's Old Town, with the New Town, is a Unesco World Heritage Site (Picture: Jane Barlow/PA)

From climate change to economic instability and war in countries like Ukraine, the challenges are big and the solutions will only be found with global action.

Since the Second World War, the world community has sought to do that through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, better known by its acronym Unesco.

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According to its vision, “political and economic arrangements of governments are not enough to secure the lasting and sincere support of the peoples. Peace must be founded upon dialogue and mutual understanding. Peace must be built upon the intellectual and moral solidarity of humanity.”

To do this, Unesco develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance. It works to ensure that every child and every citizen has access to quality education.

By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, Unesco strengthens the bonds between nations. It fosters scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation, and stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development.

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As a laboratory of ideas, it helps countries to adopt international standards and manages programmes that foster the free flow of ideas and the exchange of knowledge.

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We must give Edinburgh World Heritage a gold star at 50 - Angus Robertson
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Angus Robertson visited Unesco's Paris headquarters to celebrate the world’s first Unesco trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites

Scotland values its Unesco commitments, which is why I was at its Paris headquarters to celebrate the world’s first-ever Unesco trail, bringing together some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites.

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This dedicated digital trail connects the country’s 13 place-based Unesco designations, including world heritage sites, biospheres, global geoparks and creative cities.

It aims to take visitors on a cultural journey across the country, experiencing everything from history, science, music, design and literature to nature and cityscapes, including Edinburgh’s historic Old and New Towns which are a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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Scotland is the first nation in the world to create such a pioneering initiative. Developed through a unique partnership between VisitScotland, the Scottish Government, the UK National Commission for Unesco, Historic Environment Scotland, NatureScot, the National Trust for Scotland and Scotland’s 13 Unesco designations, the project has received £360,000 funding from the Scottish Government to support the strategy for the sustainable recovery of tourism.

Designed specifically to support ambitions to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination, Scotland’s Unesco Trail encourages visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.

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The digital trail – which is available at www.visitscotland.com/unesco-trail – showcases the breadth of the culturally astounding Unesco designations on offer across Scotland, providing information and inspiration to visitors across the world. It also celebrates businesses and communities that are committed to responsible tourism business practices and promotes sustainable travel options.

Scotland is a big supporter of Unesco and all that it does to preserve heritage, promote culture, lead global efforts for quality education, and contribute to the achievement of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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As Unesco continues its positive work around the world, we shall do everything in Scotland to work in partnership and help deliver its aims.

Angus Robertson is the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central and Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary