WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The U.S. Department of State welcomes today’s decision by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to add Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to the prestigious World Heritage List at its annual meeting in Brasilia.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is a national treasure. It is the United States’ single largest conservation area, and its inclusion in the World Heritage List will make it the second largest World Heritage Site in the world. Its 139,797 square miles are home to over 7,000 marine species, a fourth of which are found only there. In Native Hawaiian cosmology and tradition, Papahānaumokuākea is believed to lie within the place where life originates and to which it returns.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is administered jointly by the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, and the State of Hawaii. The United States nominated the monument as a World Heritage site in 2009. The remote chain of atolls and surrounding waters is the first U.S. site to be added to the World Heritage List in 15 years and joins 20 other U.S. sites including the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty on the list.

We appreciate the work of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee as it seeks to protect and preserve long-term historical, cultural or natural sites of global significance. We are pleased to collectively deepen our efforts to preserve, protect and share the beauty and wonder of this important site with the rest of the world.