200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) (1824)

Following ratification at the 42nd General Conference in November 2023, UNESCO has confirmed it will endorse the lifesaving charity’s 200th anniversary in 2024 because of the RNLI’s international reach and recognition, and how it reflects the ideals, values and cultural diversity of UNESCO.

The RNLI has been saving lives at sea since it was founded on 4 March 1824. Since it was founded, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 144,000 lives.

In 2024, the charity operates 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, including four on the River Thames, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK. The RNLI designs and builds its own lifeboats, and it runs domestic and international water safety programmes.

The UK Delegation to UNESCO, and UK National Commission for UNESCO, proposed the RNLI’s 200th anniversary be formally recognised internationally by UNESCO. The proposal received support from the UNESCO delegations of Ireland, Tanzania and Bangladesh and was ratified at the 42nd General Conference in Paris in November 2023.

This means the 200th anniversary of the RNLI is now included in the list of global anniversaries that UNESCO will officially be associated with in 2024-2025.

The organisations will work closely throughout 2024 on a range of domestic and international opportunities, such as working with UNESCO designations, including World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, Creative Cities and Global Geoparks across the UK and overseas, to help promote drowning prevention messages.

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