UNESCO encourages Guinea-Bissau’s candidacy for the Bijagós islands as a world heritage site

The Director-General of UNESCO, the French Audrey Azoulay, announced Wednesday to the Guinean Head of State, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the openness of the organization in supporting the candidacy of the Bijagós islands to be a World Heritage site.
On a working visit to Guinea-Bissau, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) met with Sissoco Embaló, with whom she discussed, among other issues, the preservation of the Bijagós islands.
The official, who visited the Bijagós, pointed out that she discussed with the head of state the fact that those islands are now a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
“I just came from a visit to the Bijagós Islands, classified 50 years ago as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which allows its conservation through different national and community UNESCO devices and also protects an exceptional biodiversity in connection with the local community that believes in its tradition,” said Audrey Azoulay, speaking outside the palace of the Guinean presidency.
The director-general of UNESCO also said that the organization will be ready to accompany Guinea-Bissau, which later this year should submit the candidacy of the Bijagós islands to the World Heritage List.
“We discussed with the President the way to continue to monitor the exceptional preservation of those islands, their nature, and their culture, including through the possible application to UNESCO World Heritage,” added Audrey Azoulay.
The Bijagós archipelago is part of the marine and coastal territory of Guinea-Bissau, consisting of 88 islands and islets, covering an area of 2.6 square kilometers, and home to about 33,000 inhabitants.
The UNESCO official noted that her first visit to Guinea-Bissau aims to discuss with the authorities the lines of cooperation in the areas of nature protection and culture, which she said were “exceptional.”