How did the New7Wonders movement begin?
Dear friend of New7Wonders,
If you are reading this, then you are probably wondering how the New7Wonders movement began. Well, it all began in the 1990s when I was working as a filmmaker. Around this time, technology was shifting from analogue to digital and the internet was starting to become a means of mass communication. I was looking for a reason to buy my first computer and to tap into the potential of the internet to reach people all over the globe. So I started to reflect and brainstorm concepts, words and sentences that I felt everyone on this planet could understand and recognise. I wanted to inspire others and encourage interaction between people of different cultures and backgrounds. It then occurred to me that the ancient Greek concept of the 7 wonders of the world could fit this purpose. So, in 1999, I decided to revive this concept, just like Pierre de Coubertin did in 1896 when he revived another ancient Greek concept — the Olympic Games.
Therefore, in 2000 I started New7Wonders as a millennium project. For the first time in the history of mankind, a democratic global exercise in the form of a worldwide voting campaign was technically possible. The idea was simple and powerful: I would ask the people of the world to choose and elect the new man-made 7 wonders of the world, the rightful heirs of the ancient 7 wonders. This global voting campaign would result in the Official New 7 Wonders of the World — official because we wanted to recognise the ultimate authority and legitimacy of democratic will.
When I started, I received consultation from the Unesco World Heritage Centre in Paris, which helped me flesh out the selection of participating locations on the very first New7Wonders website. However, later on, Unesco was unable to continue on the New7Wonders journey because of limitations built into its statutes. Unesco could no longer be involved in a selection process that would eventually result in a list of 7 chosen heritage sites. Since then, New7Wonders has collaborated with the United Nations at headquarters level in New York, supporting the UN efforts to promote the Millennium Development Goals.
Over the years the man-made New 7 Wonders of the World campaign continued to grow, from a grassroots idea into a movement that was attracting millions of voters. The New7Wonders World Tour in 2006-2007, during which I visited the 21 Finalists together with my team, led to increased voting and participation. Votes, emails, photos and videos came from literally every corner of the world. The New7Wonders global movement celebrated the results of the world’s first global voting campaign on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year 2007, when the results of more than 100 million votes were announced in Lisbon and The Official New 7 Wonders of the World were declared.
After the success of this initial campaign, my team and I launched the second campaign to elect the official New7Wonders of Nature. Its goal was to grant our natural heritage sites the same level of appreciation as our cultural heritage sites. This campaign culminated in the announcement of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011.
Thanks to the participation of millions of people, New7Wonders has already created what I call “Global Memory”: 7 things for everyone to remember — 7 symbols of unity that respect, honour and celebrate what we all share. For the first time ever, it was possible to create “Global Memory” through a global election with participants from all over the world. This “Global Memory” can be seen in the globally elected canon of 7 monuments or buildings that symbolise the wonder of man-made heritage at the beginning of the third millennium. The same applies to the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Did you know that 7 is a very special number? This is the exact number of things that the average person can remember. This is because it makes our brain work just hard enough. The challenge helps to anchor the 7 ideas or items in our brain so that we do not forget them! It is no coincidence that the first telephone numbers were made up of 7 digits.
New7Wonders is committed to deepening and expanding the legacy of “Global Memory”. We are dedicated to documenting and conserving the heritage that we celebrate through our campaigns. The first large-scale New7Wonders conservation effort was the creation of high-definition 3D models of the official New 7 Wonders of the World. These will preserve them as virtual, full-scale models for eternity, and they could be used as blueprints for reconstruction should one of the monuments be destroyed in the future.
The New7Wonders Foundation was a key player in efforts in 2002 to recreate a high-definition 3D model of the great Buddha statue in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, that was destroyed in 2001 — an example of how this kind of preservation work can be valuable. In line with this goal of documentation and preservation, one of the things that New7Wonders plans to do with the high-definition models is to send them into orbit in an indestructible data support case.
Make sure to keep up-to-date with our recent activity and the exciting events that we have been involved in by checking out our news room. My thanks go to our licensed partner, the Astra Platform Services/Virtual Planet Group, which keeps on pushing the boundaries of technical excellence on this online platform.
And thank you for being a part of the making of history!
Bernard Weber, Founder and President of New7Wonders