American President Theodore Roosevelt once said “speak softly and carry a big stick,” referring to the effectiveness of negotiating peacefully while threatening something fierce. Apparently the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) follows the speak loudly and carry a small twig philosophy.
The organization is all up in arms about ski resort development in Bulgaria’s Pirin National Park, which it granted World Heritage site status in 1983, a status that has been increasingly and repeatedly challenged by developers.
UNESCO has held five consultation meetings over Pirin since 2002, and at the most recent meeting the organization issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria, supported by a coalition of 30 Bulgarian environmental groups under the umbrella title For The Nature. The challenge for UNESCO is that it does not have many much legal way or ways to threaten.
The ultimatum it gave was to abide by Bulgarian, European Commission and international laws and stop ski resort development in the national park by 2020, or see it added to UNESCO’s list of ‘World Heritage in Danger.’
Bulgarian developers have been told to quit their highly profitable ski resort expansion or risk being put on a list on a website in ten years. It’s no wonder eight years of UNESCO objections haven’t stopped development.
The For the Nature coalition says that this year the Bulgarian government asked UNESCO to remove the resort towns of Bansko, Dobrinishte, and Razlog from the boundaries of the Pirin National Park because the government was also unable to preserve the mountains from developers.
Currently two new ski areas are planned by Dobrinishte and Razlog. Perhaps UNESCO will send a strongly-worded letter in a few years.
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