”How the New7Wonders movement all began”
Dear New7Wonders friend,
This is how the New7Wonders movement all began: In the 1990s, when I was working as a filmmaker and when technology switched from analog to digital, the Internet started to become a mass medium and I was looking for a reason to buy my first computer and to use the Internet’s true potential to reach everyone across our planet. So I started to reflect and search for a concept, for a word, a sentence which everyone on this planet could understand and recognize, and therefore would be inspired and encourage to interact with other people around the world. The ancient Greek concept of the 7 world wonders came to me as an idea that could just fit for this purpose.
So, in 1999, I decided to revive it, just like Pierre de Coubertin did in 1896 with another ancient Greek concept, the Olympic Games.
Therefore, in 2000 I started New7Wonders as a millennium project. For the first time in mankind’s history, a global democratic exercise, a worldwide voting campaign, was technically possible. The idea was simple and powerful: to ask the people of the world to choose and elect the new man-made seven wonders of the world, the rightful heirs of the ancient seven wonders. I called this simply the Official New 7 Wonders of the World – official because we wanted to recognise the ultimate authority and legitimacy granted to us by the people’s free choice and democratic will.
As I started, I consulted with the Unesco World Heritage Centre in Paris, which helped me flesh out the choice of participating locations on the very first New7Wonders website. However, later Unesco could not continue on the New7Wonders journey because of limitations built into its statutes. Having to list every possible heritage site, human built or natural, Unesco could no longer be involved in a selection process that would eventually be narrowing down to 7. Since then, New7Wonders has collaborated with the United Nations directly 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 grew and grew, from a grassroots idea into a movement that was attracting millions of voters. The New7Wonders World Tour in 2006-2007, during which I visited together with my team the 21 Finalists, further drove voting and took our website to a phenomenon peak of participation. Votes, emails, photos and videos came from literally every corner of the world. The New7Wonders global movement cumulated in the world’s biggest event 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.
Since then, the second campaign, to elect the Official New7Wonders of Nature, is up and running. Its goal is to bring our natural heritage to the same level of appreciation as that given to our cultural world.
Thanks to the participation of millions of people—hopefully you, too—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 the participation of millions of people from around the world. This Global Memory is now a canon of 7 monuments, 7 buildings that stand symbolically for the man-build heritage at the beginning of the third millennium. And the same will become of the elected natural wonders.
Did you know that 7 things is exactly the number of things that the average person can remember? This is because it makes our brain work just hard enough—to challenge and anchor the 7 in our brain so we do not forget them!
New7Wonders is committed to deepening Global Memory legacy and to help document and conserve the heritage which is celebrated during the campaigns. The first large-scale New7Wonders conservation effort will be the creation of high-definition 3D models of the Official New 7 Wonders of the World. These will preserve them, as virtually scale models, for eternity and 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 high-definition 3D model of the great Buddha statue in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, that were 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 out on an indestructible data support case into orbit. As more and more things orbit our earth, this environment could well become a major future archaeological site.
In the upcoming months, the New7Wonders team and I will visit many of the current 28 Finalists during the New7Wonders of Nature World Tour—perhaps you can join us when we visit your favourite? We will share updates from the exciting events as they happen, as well as beautiful and fascinating pictures and videos.
You may have noticed that New7Wonders is continuously enhancing your online experience here. This will continue as our licensed partner, the Astra Platform Services/Virtual Planet Group pushes this platform to ever-new technical limits.
Thanks for being a part of the making of history!
Bernard Weber, Founder and President of New7Wonders