The Norwegian government has submitted a white paper to parliament stating that it is finally prepared to nominate Svalbard for the UNESCO World Heritage List. This designation is the highest international status a landmark can be given, and would increase the pressure within Norway to protect the pristine region.
The government did not state which parts of the expansive and remote Svalbard Islands it planned to designate, but alluded to the fact that this would be determined during the nomination process, SIKUnews reports.
Analysts believe they may try to nominate the area presently protected by the Svalbard Environmental Law, which was created by the Norwegian government to preserve the pristine archipelago. This area comprises 87 percent of the territorial waters and 65 percent of the landmass within the 12-nautical mile boundary currently under protection.
Norway already has seven sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Svalbard has been a tentative nomination for two years already, but the government seems keen on finally pushing for its permanent protection. The application will be ready by the end of 2012, and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will consider it at their meeting in 2014.