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Unesco criticises private campaign to choose new seven wonders

Scheme is led by former Unesco director

Unesco has criticised the “New 7 Wonders” campaign, chaired by its former director-­general Professor Federico Mayor. In a statement issued in Paris on 20 June, Unesco reaffirmed that to avoid “damaging confusion”, the organisation stresses that “there is no link whatsoever between Unesco’s World Heritage programme and the current campaign concerning ‘The New 7 Wonders of the World’ ”, headed by Swiss-born Canadian Bernard Weber.

In the statement, Unesco argues that the 7 Wonders campaign “cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by this public [those with access to the internet]”.

The 7 Wonders campaign was launched to select seven sites by popular vote. The 21 shortlisted sites range from the Acropolis to Timbuktu. Most, but not all, are also Unesco World Heritage Sites. Voting is online, and the global campaign claims to have attracted 45m votes.

Voting continues until 6 July, with the results due to be announced in Lisbon the following day. The chairman of the 7 Wonders’ judging committee is Mr Mayor, director-general of Unesco until 1999. Other committee members are architects Zaha Hadid (UK), Tadao Ando (Japan) and Cesar Pelli (US).

After the seven sites have been chosen, the 7 Wonders campaign says that it will devote half of the revenue it has raised to fund restoration projects worldwide. It also says that one project will be the re-creation of Afghanistan’s Bamiyan Buddhas (bombed by the Taliban in 2001), an idea which has proved highly controversial.