UNESCO World Heritage Site Current Affairs - 2020

Palau first country to ban sunscreen to protect Coral Reefs

The Pacific Island, Palau has become the first country to ban sun cream that is harmful to corals. The country has banned common ingredients used in cosmetics including oxybenzone.


The order of the ban was passed in 2018. However, it comes into effect from January 1, 2020. The Rock Islands in the Palau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The country has banned 10 ingredients that harm coral reefs. It includes oxybenzone, ethyl paraben, Octinoxate, Butyl paraben, Octocrylene, methyl benzylidene camphor, triclosan, benzyl paraben, methyl paraben, phenoxyethanol

Following Palau, other states such as Hawaii in US has also introduced such bans. The Hawaii ban comes into effect from 2021. The other states that have introduced such ban includes US Virgin Islands, Dutch Carribean Islands.

Though, it is a good start, the ban has to spread globally rather than pertaining locally.

How are sun creams harmful to corals?

The sun creams absorb UV radiations and make corals susceptible to bleaching. It is estimated that around 6 to 14,000 tons of sunscreen are washed into reefs annually.

Why Palau?

Palau is made of large volcanic islands and small coral reefs. The country has taken several climatic steps despite of its size. Palau was the second nation to ratify Paris climate agreement after Fiji.

ASI identified 138 monuments as ‘Must See Monuments’: Govt

The Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Patel, informed Parliament that Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has identified 138 monuments as ‘Must See Monuments’. This information has been made available on ‘Must See’ portal of ASI.

World Heritage Sites (WHS) in India & ‘Must See’ List

WHS is a landmark or area selected by UNESCO (a UN specialized agency) as having historical, cultural, scientific or any other form of significance. Such site is legally protected by international treaties.

There are 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, which includes 30 cultural sites, 7 natural sites and 1 mixed-criteria site. India has 6th largest number of sites in world. Out of 38, the 22 cultural sites including monuments, buildings and caves are under protection of ASI. Therefore, the ‘Must See’ list features outstanding Indian monuments and archaeological sites, under protection of ASI, including those that feature on World Heritage List of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Such buildings, monuments and sites are a unique testimony to civilization in past, as they display exceptionality in terms of arts and architecture, planning and design as well exemplary engineering skills.

About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

It is an Indian government agency that is responsible for archaeological research, conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in country. It functions under Union Ministry of Culture. It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham who was also the first Director-General of ASI.