Swiss, French and Italian officials have signed a joint declaration of intention as a "first step" toward launching the Mont Blanc massif’s candidacy for a coveted spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.
The declaration was signed on Tuesday in Chamonix, France, at a cross-border meeting attended by local authorities and government representatives of the three countries, including Valais Senator Christophe Darbellay.
According to a press release from the Espace Mont Blancexternal link consultation body, the declaration represents “preliminary steps necessary for the joint launch of a procedure to classify the Mont Blanc massif as a UNESCO World Heritage Siteexternal link", in a move to “guarantee the preservation and active development” of the natural wonder.
“All lights are green,” affirmed Catherine Berthet, Chamonix’s commissioner of cross-border policy. She added that the development of specifications for the candidacy is expected in the first half of 2018, and that the overall classification process by UNESCO could take “between five and ten years”.
“A beautiful adventure awaits us, and I thank all who will mobilise to construct, across borders, a new model of development that corresponds to our aspirations and gives to the world an innovative vision of the relationship between man and nature,” Chamonix mayor Eric Fournier pronounced.
Straddling France, Italy and the Swiss canton of Valais, the Mont Blanc massif is 4,808 metres (15,744 feet) high, making it the highest peak in western Europe. Currently there are 1,073 sites on UNESCO’s famed list. Switzerland currently boasts 12, including the Lavaux vineyardsexternal link, the Old City of Bernexternal link and the Jungfrau-Aletsch alpine regionexternal link.