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Climate Change and World Heritage

World Heritage properties are affected by the impacts of climate change at present and in the future. Their continued preservation requires understanding these impacts to their Outstanding Universal Value and responding to them effectively.

World Heritage properties also harbour options for society to mitigate and adapt to climate change through the ecosystem benefits, such as water and climate regulation, that they provide and the carbon that is stored in World Heritage forest sites. Cultural heritage, on the other hand, can convey traditional knowledge that builds resilience for change to come and leads us to a more sustainable future.

World Heritage properties serve as climate change observatories to gather and share information on applied and tested monitoring, mitigation and adaptation practices. The global network of World Heritage also helps raise awareness on the impacts of climate change on human societies and cultural diversity, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

Forthcoming meetings

Open-ended Working Group

Open-ended Working Group in relation to Resolution 23 GA 11 concerning Climate Change and World Heritage

Panel of experts

Panel of experts in relation to Decision 44 COM 7C concerning Climate Change and World Heritage

Policy and strategy

Climate change has become one of the most significant threats to World Heritage properties, potentially impacting their Outstanding Universal Value, including their integrity and authenticity, and their potential for economic and social development at the local level.

The issue of the impacts of climate change on World Heritage was brought to the attention of the World Heritage Committee in 2005 by a group of concerned organizations and individuals. Subsequently, UNESCO has been at the forefront of exploring and managing the impacts of climate change on World Heritage. In 2006, under the guidance of the World Heritage Committee, and along with the World Heritage Committee’s Advisory Bodies (ICCROM, ICOMOS, IUCN) and a broad working group of experts, UNESCO prepared a report on ‘Predicting and Managing the effects of climate change on World Heritage’, as well as a ‘Strategy to Assist States Parties to the Convention to Implement Appropriate Management Responses’. This was followed by a compilation of case studies on climate change and World Heritage. This process led to the adoption in 2007 by the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention of a Policy Document on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties (hereafter called “Policy Document”).

Background

Climate change has become one of the most significant threats to World Heritage properties, potentially impacting their Outstanding Universal Value, including their integrity and authenticity, and their potential for economic and social development at the local level.

The issue of the impacts of climate change on World Heritage was brought to the attention of the World Heritage Committee in 2005 by a group of concerned organizations and individuals. Subsequently, UNESCO has been at the forefront of exploring and managing the impacts of climate change on World Heritage. In 2006, under the guidance of the World Heritage Committee, and along with the World Heritage Committee’s Advisory Bodies (ICCROM, ICOMOS, IUCN) and a broad working group of experts, UNESCO prepared a report on ‘Predicting and Managing the effects of climate change on World Heritage’, as well as a ‘Strategy to Assist States Parties to the Convention to Implement Appropriate Management Responses’. This was followed by a compilation of case studies on climate change and World Heritage. This process led to the adoption in 2007 by the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention of a Policy Document on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties (hereafter called “Policy Document”).

Since the adoption of the Policy Document in 2007, an important number of reports on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties affected by climate change have been presented to the World Heritage Committee. At the same time, a number of major global reports and agreements informed the actions at the national commitments to action including the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (Paris Agreement) among others.

Aware that knowledge related to adaptation and mitigation to climate change has drastically increased over the past 10 years, the World Heritage Committee requested at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to periodically review and update the Policy Document, to make available the most current knowledge and technology on the subject to guide the decisions and actions of the World Heritage community (Decision 40 COM 7, para. 16).

In 2017, the World Heritage Committee reiterated the importance of States Parties undertaking the most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and by pursuing efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (Decision 41 COM 7, para. 22).

An international expert workshop, funded by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation and organized in cooperation with IUCN, ICOMOS, ICCROM and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, took place in October 2017 in the Baltic Sea island of Vilm, Germany, to discuss the challenges posed by climate change to the conservation and management of World Heritage properties. The meeting brought together international experts on heritage and climate change to discuss the revision of the 2007 “Policy Document” and to make recommendations to guide the updating process (see https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/1736/), which were brought to the attention of the Committee at its 42nd session in 2018 (see Document WHC/18/42.COM/7, para. 51).

Initiating an update of the Policy Document

A project was initiated by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to update the Policy Document for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session (initially in 2020) and ensure its widespread communication and dissemination to all stakeholders concerned. This project received the generous support of the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust.

Under the overall supervision of the World Heritage Centre, and in close consultation with the three Advisory Bodies (including through the valuable inputs of the ICOMOS Climate Change and Heritage Working Group), this project has been carried out by a team of two senior internationally recognized experts: Mr. Rohit Jigyasu (India), addressing its cultural aspects, and Mr. Oscar Guevara (Colombia), addressing the natural aspects, both of them bringing also their solid expertise in the fields of heritage conservation and management, disaster risk management, capacity-building and climate science and policy, inter alia.

Wide Online Consultation

A wide online consultation involving all stakeholders of the World Heritage Convention on the updating of the “Policy Document” was launched at the end of December 2019 until end of January 2020. This questionnaire was widely circulated to World Heritage stakeholders, including States Parties, site managers, local communities, indigenous peoples, academics, NGOs, civil society, Advisory Bodies and the Secretariat (see https://whc.unesco.org/en/news/2074/). The full questionnaire is accessible at https://whc.unesco.org/document/180635.

The aim of this consultation was to gather feedback and comments from key World Heritage stakeholders of the Convention on this crucial matter. They were invited to share their views, expectations and best practice examples, and were also requested to flag the importance of several aspects for their possible inclusion into the updated Policy Document, such as, among others:

  • Scientific and technical information needed to assess the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties and associated communities;
  • Potential role of World Heritage properties for climate mitigation and adaptation;
  • Synergies of the Convention with other international conventions / programmes;
  • Legal aspects for States Parties to the Convention in addressing climate change for Word Heritage properties;
  • Awareness, capacity building, etc.

A total of 366 responses were collected through this successful exercise. This high response rate demonstrates the interest of the international community as a whole for action on climate.

The contributions mostly highlighted a number of key challenges faced in properly implementing the 2007 Policy Document, as well as some gaps in this Document, which should be addressed in its updated version. The results of the survey also provided suggestions and key considerations to ensure an improvement in the implementation of the updated Policy Document, including suggestions on the role of the Convention in addressing climate change threats to World Heritage properties, and on the role of the existing processes of the Convention (Nomination, Reactive Monitoring, Periodic Reporting), of Management Plans/Systems or national legislation, to better assess, manage and/or report climate-related activities (see summary of all responses at https://whc.unesco.org/document/181913).

In addition to the rich outcomes of the online consultation, a first draft updated Policy Document (referred to as ‘Zero draft’) was prepared by the experts also taking into account policies and strategies already adopted at the international level, within the overarching framework of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, such as the regular reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Paris Agreement (2015), the Policy Document for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (2015), the New UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change (2017), the UNESCO Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change (2017), as well as the outcomes of recent meetings held on this issue, such as the recommendations of the 2017 Vilm meeting.

This ‘Zero draft’ was shared on April 2020 (Circular Letter CL/WHC-20/08) with all States Parties to the Convention for information.

The Technical Advisory Group of experts

As indicated to the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019) (Document WHC/19/43.COM/7), a Technical Advisory Group of experts in the fields of natural and cultural heritage, climate change, with a sound understanding of the processes of the Convention, was established with the main objectives to review the draft updated Policy Document and provide inputs to this World Heritage Centre/Advisory Bodies-driven process. The Chairpersons of all six UNESCO Electoral Groups were consulted and invited to nominate two regional representatives and up to two observers to be part of this Technical Advisory Group. Therefore, experts from Australia, Bahrain, Czechia, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Republic of Moldova, Senegal, The Netherlands and Zimbabwe took part in the discussions, with observers from Brazil, France, Greece, Hungary and Mexico. In addition to this diverse representation of States Parties, this geographically and gender-balanced group also included representatives of the three Advisory Bodies and the Secretariat (Culture and Natural Sciences Sectors).

In implementing this project addressing the current climate crisis, and in line with UNESCO Director-General’s full support to implement environmental sustainability at UNESCO in accordance with the “Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System 2020-2030”, it was decided to lead by example and send a positive signal to the world in holding all the meetings of this Technical Advisory Group online, making them sustainable and carbon neutral.

The Technical Advisory Group defined a clear roadmap for the presentation of the updated Policy Document to the Committee and met 4 times online between April and September 2020. Each meeting was well prepared with draft updated Policy Document prepared by the two experts revised on the basis of inputs from the previous sessions as well as written inputs from the experts. The meetings were intensive and detailed with some of the meetings taking place over two or three days, reviewing and discussing in detail the drafts, section by section, to address the potential different viewpoints or approaches and to provide further guidance (both during the meetings and in writing, as needed) until a consensual text could be achieved.

During its meetings, the Technical Advisory Group addressed the crucial issues of the purpose and the scope of the updated Policy Document, its structure, as well as the means to ensure its proper implementation by all stakeholders of the Convention, and particularly focused its attention on the following necessities/needs:

  • Ensure that the updated Policy Document is fully anchored in the World Heritage system, and within the remit of the World Heritage Convention,
  • Ensure clear links with the UN Agenda 2030, the SDGs, the Paris Agreement and with all other relevant World Heritage policies,
  • Ground the updated Policy Document in contemporary climate policy and in the best available climate science while at the same time recognizing the importance of Indigenous Peoples and knowledges for the management and conservation of World Heritage properties;
  • Integrate the concept of the “theory of change”,
  • Take into account the different meanings of “Loss and Damage” as interpreted within the World Heritage context and the Paris Agreement context,
  • Highlight the importance of education and capacity-building,
  • Have an action-oriented updated Policy Document, which clearly identifies the actors and their roles and responsibilities (Committee-level, national-level, site-level),
  • Find the balance between having a too general approach and one which would be too prescriptive and inappropriately demanding on site-managers,
  • Make sure that the updated Policy Document provides sufficient guidance to encourage and facilitate its implementation at all levels.

Recognizing that while World Heritage properties bear the consequences and impacts of climate change, they also offer lessons and a wide diversity of solutions to combat its risks. As a means to reinforce the fact that climate action is now needed more than ever before, it was thus overwhelmingly suggested to take the opportunity of this updating process to change the title of the 2007 Policy Document and move away from “impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties” to a more positive title calling for “climate action for World Heritage”.

The Technical Advisory Group members were of the view that, once the updated Policy Document is adopted, the relevant implications in procedural terms should be identified, so as to ensure that its principles are translated into actual practice in the implementation of the various processes of the World Heritage Convention. These should result in proposals for specific changes to the Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, which the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies could propose accordingly.

In addition, the process for the elaboration of the updated Policy Document, and particularly the comments received from the members of the Technical Advisory Group and results of the online consultation, strongly suggested that a number of education and capacity-building initiatives would be needed to enable the application of the updated Policy Document by those concerned.

The Technical Advisory Group was also of the view that, subject to available resources, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies could prepare a Guidance Document to facilitate effective implementation of, and support for, the actions, goals and targets of the updated Policy Document. The Guidance Document could also elaborate indicators and benchmarking tools for measuring and reporting progress towards achieving the World Heritage Climate Action Goals.

In addition, an internationally collaborative approach was advocated, engaging communities and stakeholders to develop and implement additional tools and methodologies that support transformative change and achievement of the World Heritage Climate Action Goals.

Following the last meeting of the Technical Advisory Group, the draft updated Policy Document was revised to take into account the last comments. made and was reviewed by the three Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre.

The 2007 Policy Document having been endorsed by the World Heritage Committee before being adopted by the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention the same year, the same procedure was followed for its updated version. The updated Policy Document was hence presented to the World Heritage Committee at its extended 44th session in July 2021 (Annex 1 of Document WHC/21/44.COM/7C) and subsequently presented to the 23rd session of the General Assembly in November 2021.

Prior to the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, an information meeting on the updating of the Policy Document took place online on 18 June 2021, in order to present the draft updated Policy Document to all States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, as well as the process followed for its updating (presentation available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/events/1602/).

The review of the draft updated Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage by the World Heritage Committee

The updated Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage was endorsed by the World Heritage Committee at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021) (see Decision 44 COM 7C, here included as Annex 1), which requested that the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, revise it by incorporating views expressed and amendments submitted during the extended 44th session, and to consult World Heritage Committee members, especially concerning the following points:

  • the fundamental principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), which is one of the basic pillars of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
  • the alignment of climate change mitigation actions with the CBDR-RC and the Nationally Determined Contributions accepted under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, except on an entirely voluntary basis,
  • the need for support and capacity-building assistance, as well as the encouragement of technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries.

The World Heritage Committee also requested that the updated draft Policy Document be transmitted for review and adoption at the 23rd session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, in November 2021.

The World Heritage Committee further requested the World Heritage Centre to convene a Panel of experts on Climate change and World Heritage, with experts drawn from the ad-hoc Working Group, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and other qualified experts in the field of climate science and heritage, to meet by March 2022, and called on States Parties to contribute financially to this end.

Comments from members of the World Heritage Committee

Following the Committee Decision, by a Circular Letter, States Parties members of the World Heritage Committee were invited to provide inputs and concrete proposals on the three specific points raised in Decision 44 COM 7C to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

After a reminder and by the deadline of 15 September 2021, eight States Parties members of the World Heritage Committee provided comments on the above. In addition, they also provided comments of a general nature as well as more specific ones, notably on the purpose and scope of the Policy Document, its implementation, its revision, including on good practice examples, management and monitoring of World Heritage properties, inter alia. Concrete inputs in the form of amendments to the draft Policy Document were also submitted. All comments and inputs received were consolidated and reflected in Document WHC/21/23.GA/INF.11. The following presents a summary of the comments received on the various topics:

Principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC)

While States Parties generally agreed that the principle of CBDR-RC is a basic pillar of the international environmental regime, some recalled that it was a principle in the UNFCCC, but not part of the Paris Agreement, and were of the view that any reference to CBDR-RC in the Policy Document should be strictly limited to mitigation actions (Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs) in the context of the Paris Agreement and should not be referenced more broadly in relation to the UNFCCC, nor should it be connected to other matters, such as adaptation or finance.

On the other hand, it was indicated that since all States Parties to the World Heritage Convention are equally responsible for the management and conservation of the World Heritage properties located on their territories, and since the provisions set out in the Operational Guidelines apply equally to all parties, no specific reference to CBDR-RC should be included in the Policy Document.

Concrete proposals to integrate the principle of CBDR-RC were proposed as part of the Guiding Principles to adopt a precautionary approach aimed at minimising the risks associated with climate change and to promote global partnership, inclusion and solidarity, in Section I.C of the Policy Document.

Alignment of climate change mitigation actions with the CBDR-RC and the Nationally Determined Contributions accepted under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, except on an entirely voluntary basis,

A State Party recalled the importance to stress that the drafting of the updated Policy Document had been done in full recognition of the principles of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, and their centrality as the privileged forum to discuss climate-related international issues.

There were however diverging views regarding the recognition of the Paris Agreement as an independent legal agreement. In some contributions, the current references to the Paris Agreement as an independent agreement in the Policy Document were found satisfactory and not to be modified, while others suggested language clarifications regarding the Paris Agreement, such as “adopted under the UNFCCC” or “the UNFCCC Paris Agreement”.

Regarding the alignment of climate change mitigation actions with the CBDR-RC and the NDCs, some contributing Committee members were of the view that any reference to CBDR-RC in the Policy Document should be strictly limited to mitigation actions (NDCs) in the context of the Paris Agreement.

Concrete proposals in this regard were formulated, notably as part of the World Heritage Climate Action Goal 3 (climate mitigation) in Section II.B of the Policy Document.

Need for support and capacity-building assistance, as well as encouragement of technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries.

This aspect had drawn a number of comments and inputs from contributing Committee members, highlighting the need for such support and capacity-building assistance, encouragement of technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries and that this aspect could be further strengthened in the Policy Document.

However, while some contributors recalled that “under the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement”, this provision is an obligation of developed countries in relation to developing ones, some others did not wish that the CBDR-RC be brought up in this context.

Some contributions were also in favour to take into account the developed countries’ leading role in the provision and mobilization of financial resources in support of developing countries, and to emphasize more specifically Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as vulnerable regions, under the Finance section of the Enabling conditions for the implementation of the Policy Document (Section III.A).

Other concrete proposals were suggested as part of the Guiding Principles to promote global partnership, inclusion and solidarity (Section I.C) and under the World Heritage Climate Action Goal 4 (Knowledge sharing, capacity building and awareness) in Section II.B. In addition, a direct quote from Article 11 of the Paris Agreement on capacity building was suggested as an addition to Section II.D.4 dedicated to Knowledge Sharing, Capacity Building and Awareness.

Other comments

Regarding the purpose and scope of the Policy Document, it was recalled that it must maintain its explicit focus on safeguarding Outstanding Universal Value and on the role World Heritage can play, not only in managing the impacts of climate change on World Heritage but also in mitigating climate change. It was also recalled that the Policy Document should not encroach on the mandate of other conventions. In this sense, it was suggested that any text in the Policy Document that could be perceived as setting a benchmark for States Parties’ emissions reduction efforts should be removed (for example, the World Heritage Climate Action Goal 2 (on climate mitigation) in Section II.B, is deemed to exceed UNESCO’s mandate, by asking States Parties “to develop national robust climate adaptation framework” and should therefore be adjusted to only cover cultural and heritage sites). It was also suggested that the role of protected natural areas in adaptation, mitigation and resilience to the effects of climate change and the promotion of all the ecosystem services they provide be highlighted. A contribution also stressed the fact that the Policy Document should provide a voluntary outcome-oriented policy framework, and an amendment is proposed to that effect in Section I.B, under Purpose and Scope.

The need for World Heritage properties to be examples of good environmental practices, notably through the use of new environmentally friendly and low-emission technologies, was frequently referred to in the contributions. It was also recommended to add "Good Practices", either as a new Annex V or as a separate section in current Annexes II, III and IV.

Regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a contributor drew attention to the reference made to the various sources of GHG emissions (such as deforestation in Paragraph 3), asking that this part be deleted or that all sources of GHG emissions be added. In addition, it was suggested that the aim for “zero emissions” be replaced by “low GHG emissions”.

Contributions offered diverging views on the matter of local knowledge and traditional practice: some were of the opinion that “local knowledge and wisdom and traditional practice represent different knowledge system that are key source of information to inform mitigation and adaptation options needed to prepare communities for future climate risks”, while some others wished to delete the mention of the traditional knowledge and Indigenous science as climate technology with relevance to contemporary climate action, under Section II.A (Enabling conditions – Technological innovations).

Diverging views were also expressed with regard to the question of the inscription of a property on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to climate change-related impacts. On the one hand, a request was placed to ensure that the “significant legal and interpretive questions raised by climate change with respect to the Convention” be resolved and “clearly articulated in the Operational Guidelines”, and that “any decisions associated with these issues should be deferred until clarity and certainty can be provided to all States Parties”. Additions were proposed in this sense under Section II.C (Legal framework). On the other hand, it was recalled that the “legal provisions of the Operational Guidelines were clear and should be taken into account with regard to the inclusion of sites on the Danger List for climatic causes”.

A number of contributions stressed the issue of the implementation of the Policy Document after its adoption, asking for specific indicators for each World Heritage Climate Action Goal in addressing climate change, and suggesting that this Policy Document become part of the national policies to address and adapt to climate changes to ensure its implementation with regard to heritage and cultural sites. The updating of World Heritage site management plans to present a general approach to climate change was suggested as a way to facilitate the regular monitoring of the implementation of the Policy Document.

Lastly, the revision of the Policy Document was also mentioned in the contributions provided, highlighting the need to plan for a periodic review and update of the Policy Document, based on the understanding that World Heritage properties are affected by social, political, economic dynamics, as well as by the impacts of climate change.

Review of the draft updated Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage by the General Assembly of States Parties at its 23rd session (UNESCO, 2021)

After having examined Documents WHC/21/23.GA/11 and WHC/21/23.GA/INF.11 and by Resolution 23 GA 11 (see Annex 2 of the present document), the General Assembly of States Parties took note of the Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage, as endorsed by the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, and decided to establish an open-ended Working Group of States Parties, assisted by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, with the mandate to develop the final version of the Policy Document, taking into account Decision 44 COM 7C, as well as proposals for its effective implementation. The General Assembly also requested that this final version of Policy Document, which will be developed by the open-ended Working Group, be presented for consideration by its 24th session in 2023.

In addition, the General Assembly recommended that the Panel of experts requested by the World Heritage Committee (see above) be convened with the mandate to consider revisions to the Policy Document and its unresolved policy matters, and report to the open-ended Working Group established by the General Assembly, to inform its consideration of the Policy Document and proposals to implement it.

Next Steps

Open-ended Working Group

An online inception meeting of the Open-ended Working Group established by the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention at its 23rd session in November 2021 was organized on 22 March 2022.

This first meeting was the occasion to provide background information on this matter to all States Parties and to proceed with the election of a Chairperson and two Vice-Chairpersons.

During this inception meeting, the Open-ended Working Group also decided on the frequency and length of its forthcoming meetings, on the lead up to the 24th session of the General Assembly of States Parties in November 2023.

Panel of Experts

Concomitantly, and as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its extended 44th session in July 2021, experts for the Panel of Experts drawn from the ad hoc Working Group, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and other qualified experts in the field of climate science and heritage, met online on 30, 31 March and 1 April 2022.

A process has been put in place by the Secretariat in order to ensure that the Panel of Experts is balanced geographically as well as gender-balanced and the number of participating experts limited to ensure the full participation of each of them in constructive discussions (three (3) exerts and two (2) observers for each region of the World, in addition to the representatives of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.)

At its 23rd session, the General Assembly recommended that this Panel “consider revisions to the Policy Document and its unresolved policy matters”.

In addition, as explained in Section V above, at its extended 44th session in July 2021, the World Heritage Committee had requested that the Policy Document be revised, especially concerning the fundamental principle of CBDR-RC; the alignment of climate change mitigation actions with the CBDR-RC and the Nationally Determined Contributions accepted under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, except on an entirely voluntary basis, as well as the need for support and capacity-building assistance, as well as the encouragement of technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries. A number of Committee members had made proposals in this regard (see Section VI above). These were presented to the General Assembly in Document WHC/21/23.GA/INF.11

The mandate of the Panel of experts therefore consisted of considering the revisions proposed by members of the World Heritage Committee, as reflected in Document WHC/21/23.GA/INF.11. The Panel will subsequently report the outcomes of its work to the first working meeting of the Open-ended Working Group. The Panel of experts also considered the Policy Document’s “unresolved policy matters” and provide clarifications thereon, as necessary.

Capacity Building

Building capacities for resilient World Heritage

UNESCO builds capacities of States Parties and other stakeholders to manage climate change impacts on World Heritage effectively and sustainably. The main aim of these efforts is to increase the capacity of these properties to continue to convey their Outstanding Universal Value and support sustainable development.

Management of resilient World Heritage properties requires designing and implementing appropriate adaptation measures, complemented by activities that contribute to disaster risk management, climate change mitigation and sustainable development.

In 2014, UNESCO supported capacity building of World Heritage site managers in Latin America and Africa on climate change adaptation for natural World Heritage based on the methodological guide developed. Four natural sites (2 in India and 2 in Kenya) took part as pilot sites in the preparation of the guide. These activities received financial support from the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust, the Flanders Funds-in-Trust and the Government of Belgium.

UNESCO has also supported specific World Heritage sites on climate change adaptation and mitigation activities, including in Peru and Indonesia.

Tools and Guidance

World Heritage resources for responding to climate change

UNESCO has been at the forefront of exploring and managing the impacts of climate change on World Heritage. In 2006, under the guidance of the World Heritage Committee, it prepared a report on Predicting and Managing the Effects of Climate Change on World Heritage (2007), followed by a compilation of Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage, and a Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties in 2008. In May 2014, it published a practical guide to Climate Change Adaptation for Natural World Heritage Sites and continues to build the capacity of site managers to deal with climate change.

The World Heritage Review n°42, 74, 77 and 100 have focused on issues of climate change and resilience.

Other activities relevant to climate change

Reducing Disasters Risks at World Heritage Properties and World Heritage and Sustainable Development.

News (26)
Events (16)
Decisions / Resolutions (12)
Code: 23GA 11

The General Assembly,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/21/23.GA/11 and WHC/21/23.GA/INF.11,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7, 41 COM 7, 42 COM 7, 43 COM 7.2 and 44 COM 7C, adopted respectively at the 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 42nd (Manama, 2018), 43rd (Baku, 2019) and extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions of the World Heritage Committee,
  3. Thanking the State Party of the Netherlands for having funded the project to update the 2007 Policy Document on the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, and expressing its gratitude to all stakeholders of the World Heritage Convention who contributed to this process,
  4. Noting the debate on this item that took place during the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee (Fuzhou/online, 2021), as well as the comments expressed by the Committee members on this draft through a written consultation process,
  5. Noting that the World Heritage Committee has endorsed the draft "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”, as presented in Annex 1 of Document WHC/21/44.COM/7C, at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021), and recommended its review in line with the principles mentioned in paragraph 7 of Decision 44 COM 7C,
  6. Takes note of the “Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”, as endorsed by the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, and decides to establish an open-ended working group assisted by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, with the mandate to review and develop its final version taking into account Decision 44 COM 7C, as well as proposals for its effective implementation, for consideration by the 24th session of the General Assembly of States Parties;
  7. Recommends that the panel of experts as agreed in Decision 44 COM 7C, be convened before March 2022, with a mandate to:
    1. consider revisions to the Policy Document and its unresolved policy matters, and
    2. report to the open-ended working group established in paragraph 6, to inform its consideration of the Policy Document and proposals to implement it;
  8. Encourages States Parties to provide extra-budgetary funding for the open-ended working group.

Read more about the decision
Code: 44COM 7C

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7C,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7, 41 COM 7, 42 COM 7 and 43 COM 7.2, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
  3. Takes note with satisfaction of the wide range of climate change-related activities undertaken by the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Thanks the State Party of the Netherlands for having funded the project to update the 2007 Policy Document on the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, and expresses its gratitude to all the experts and representatives of States Parties, of the World Heritage Centre and of the Advisory Bodies who contributed to the meetings of the Technical Advisory Group;
  5. Takes note with appreciation that a wide diversity of stakeholders of the World Heritage Convention (States Parties, site managers, Advisory Bodies, World Heritage Centre and representatives of local communities, indigenous peoples, academics, NGOs and civil society) were able to contribute to the updating process through the online consultation launched by the World Heritage Centre;
  6. Takes note of the new title proposed for the updated Policy Document to become “Policy Document for Climate Action for World Heritage”;
  7. Endorses the draft "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”, as presented in Annex 1 of Document WHC/21/44.COM/7C, and requests the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, to revise it by incorporating views expressed and amendments submitted during the extended 44th session and, as appropriate, to consult Committee members, especially concerning the following points:
    1. the fundamental principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC), which is one of the basic pillars of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
    2. the alignment of climate change mitigation actions with the CBDR-RC and the Nationally Determined Contributions accepted under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, except on an entirely voluntary basis,
    3. the need for support and capacity-building assistance, as well as the encouragement of technology transfer and financing from developed to developing countries;
  8. Recalls Decision 41 COM 7 and reiterates the importance of States Parties undertaking the most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement of the UNFCCC, and strongly invites all States Parties to ratify the Paris Agreement at the earliest possible opportunity and to undertake actions to address Climate Change under the Paris Agreement consistent with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances, that are fully consistent with their obligations within the World Heritage Convention to protect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of all World Heritage properties;
  9. Decides to transmit the draft "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”, following final revisions, for review and adoption at the 23rd session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention in 2021;
  10. Also requests the World Heritage Centre, jointly with the Advisory Bodies, once the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage” is adopted by the General Assembly of the States Parties and within the available resources, to elaborate proposals for specific changes to the Operational Guidelines that would be required to translate the principles of this Policy Document into actual operational procedures, and to develop education and capacity-building initiatives that would be needed to enable wide implementation of this Policy Document, and calls on States Parties to contribute financially to this end;
  11. Further requests the World Heritage Centre, in parallel with the processes outlined in Paragraph 10, to convene a panel of experts drawn from the ad-hoc Working Group, World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and other qualified experts in the field of climate science and heritage to meet by March 2022 and also calls on State Parties to contribute financially to this end;
  12. Requests furthermore the World Heritage Centre, jointly with the Advisory Bodies, and subject to available resources, to consider preparing a Guidance Document to facilitate effective implementation of, and support for, the actions, goals and targets of this Policy Document, which could include indicators and benchmarking tools for measuring and reporting progress towards achieving the World Heritage Climate Action Goals, and further calls on States Parties to support this activity through extrabudgetary funding;
  13. Encourages the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”, once adopted, through appropriate means to the World Heritage community and the broader public, including in local languages, and to promote its implementation;
  14. Recommends that the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage” be interpreted in the context of the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement (2015) and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, and in conjunction with the Policy Document for the integration of a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention (2015);
  15. Urges States Parties and all stakeholders of the Convention to urgently integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation actions in risk preparedness policies and action plans, in order to protect the OUV of all World Heritage properties, in line with the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage”;
  16. Further recommends that World Heritage-related Category 2 Centres and UNESCO Chairs prioritize issues related to the implementation of the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage” within their capacity-building and research initiatives;
  17. Finally requests the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, to present a progress report on the implementation status of the "Policy Document on Climate Action for World Heritage” at its 48th session, after four years of implementation.

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Code: 43COM 7.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/19/43.COM/7, WHC/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3, WHC/19/43.COM/7B, WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add.2 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7, 41 COM 7, and 42 COM 7, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,

    Emergency situations resulting from conflicts

  3. Deplores the loss of human life as well as the degradation of humanitarian conditions resulting from the prevailing conflict situations in several countries, and expresses its utmost concern at the devastating damage sustained and the continuing threats facing cultural and natural heritage in general;
  4. Expresses its deep concern at the inter-community conflicts observed in Mali between the Dogon and Fulani communities, which have caused considerable loss of human life and significant damage to the cultural heritage, particularly within the World Heritage property of the Cliffs of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons);
  5. Thanks the State Party of Mali for the urgent actions that have been put in place to ensure the safety of communities in and around the property, and encourages the State Party, to also take into account in its actions the protection of the property’s rich cultural heritage, and to do so in collaboration with the stakeholders involved in the establishment of long-term peace in Mali;
  6. Welcomes the dispatch of a UNESCO mission to assess the damage caused to the property, and identify the needs related to the built and intangible cultural heritage and the objects and practices associated with the Cliffs of Bandiagara, in order to propose an Action Plan for the rehabilitation of the villages concerned;
  7. Urges again all parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural and natural heritage and to fulfill their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and the sites included in the Tentative List;
  8. Also urges again States Parties to adopt measures against using World Heritage properties for military purposes and to stop related uncontrolled development and impact;
  9. Reiterates its utmost concern about the continuing threats of wildlife poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife products linked to impacts of conflict and organized crime, which is eroding the biodiversity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of many World Heritage sites across the world, and urges States Parties to take the necessary measures to curb this problem, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
  10. Calls upon the international community to further support the safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage of countries affected by conflict, through earmarked funds or through contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  11. Appeals to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural objects, as well as cultural heritage protection in general, including through the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 (2015), 2253 (2015) and 2347 (2017);

    Reconstruction

  12. Thanks the State Party of Poland for the efforts to widely disseminate the Warsaw Recommendation on Recovery and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage, as well as the proceedings of the international conference "The Challenges of World Heritage Recovery" held in Warsaw in May 2018;
  13. Welcomes the policy document "Culture in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of cities", published by UNESCO and the World Bank, which contributes to the reflection launched on the challenges related to the reconstruction of World Heritage properties;
  14. Requests the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM and the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, to continue the reflection on the recovery and reconstruction of World Heritage properties, and requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies report back to the World Heritage Committee on the progress made in improving advice in this regard;

    Climate Change

  15. Notes with appreciation the initiatives taken by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to advance work on updating the Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, including through a planned widespread online consultation with States Parties, Advisory Bodies and civil society;
  16. Requests that the development of the updated Policy Document be completed for consideration by the Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  17. Welcomes the initiative taken by the World Heritage Centre together with a global private-public consortium of partners, to build climate adaptation strategies across five marine World Heritage sites in Australia, Belize, France and Palau;
  18. Urges all States Parties to step up action toward better understanding the climate vulnerability of World Heritage properties and put in place adaptation strategies that strengthen the resilience of properties and ensure the conservation of their Outstanding Universal Value.

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Code: 42COM 7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/18/42.COM/7, WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/18/42.COM/7B and WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7 and 41 COM 7, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Thanks the State Party of Bahrain for having organized a World Heritage Site Managers Forum (Manama, 2018), as a capacity-building exercise aiming at increasing the understanding of the World Heritage decision-making process among site managers, in order to achieve a more effective protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV); acknowledges the importance and benefit of this Forum and considers that it should be convened in conjunction with all future sessions of the World Heritage Committee;
  4. Takes note of the Statement of Participants to the Forum and encourages States Parties to support the participation of their respective site managers to future fora and other capacity-building opportunities in order to enable them to provide appropriate information with regard to the management of their respective sites;

    Statutory matters related to Reactive Monitoring
    Reactive Monitoring evaluation

  5. Takes note with appreciation that the World Heritage Centre has launched an evaluation of the Reactive Monitoring process and thanks the State Party of Switzerland for its financial support to this activity;

  6. Notes with concern that some properties have remained on the List of World Heritage in Danger for more than ten years; this raises questions on whether the OUV has been maintained and requests the World Heritage Centre to establish an inclusive working mechanism for assessing the OUV of these sites, and to present a report during the 44th session;
  7. Urges States Parties along with other stakeholders to actively contribute to the evaluation of the Reactive Monitoring process to ensure this mechanism remains a valuable indicator and overview of the state of conservation of heritage;
  8. Also takes note that the Secretariat has prepared audio-visual communication and outreach material related to the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  9. Encourages all stakeholders of the World Heritage Convention to engage in the promotion of a better understanding of the implications and benefits of properties being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and to develop appropriate information material in this regard with a view to overcome the negative perceptions of the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  10. Requests that the Reactive Monitoring Evaluation includes options for process improvements for sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in particular how actions recommended by Reactive Monitoring missions to assist States Parties meet their Desired state of conservation should be incorporated into the costed Action Plans decided by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 41 COM 14;
  11. Further requests the World Heritage Centre develop a proposal, for sharing in the World Heritage Market Place, for funds to support a workshop to assist States Parties with sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger to develop and implement prioritized, staged and costed actions plans, and notes that these plans can be linked to requests for international assistance and shared in the Market Place;
  12. Recognizing the importance of focusing on those properties of greatest concern, recommends that, with effect from the 43rd session of the Committee, the World Heritage Centre considers geographical and thematic distribution of properties as additional criteria when determining which properties to open for discussion under Agenda items 7A and 7B;

    Dialogue with civil society
  13. Welcomes the continued interest of civil society organizations in the Convention, acknowledging the important contribution that can be made to the promotion and conservation of heritage on the ground and to capacity-building;
  14. Also welcomes the initiative of the World Heritage Centre to open the consultation processes related to the Convention to a larger number of stakeholders, including civil society;
  15. Takes note of the World Heritage Civil Society Workshop organized further to the initiative of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in March 2018, which discussed how civil society participation in the Convention, and specifically in World Heritage Committee sessions, can be further improved;
  16. Encourages again States Parties and civil society organizations to continue to explore possibilities to further civil society engagement in the Convention, both by contributing to enhanced conservation of heritage on the site and national level and by providing relevant input to the heritage related debate at the global level;

    Emergency situations resulting from conflicts

  17. Deplores the loss of human life as well as the degradation of humanitarian conditions resulting from the conflict situations prevailing in several countries, and expresses its utmost concern at the devastating damage sustained and the continuing threats facing cultural and natural heritage in general;
  18. Urges all parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural and natural heritage and to fulfill their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and the sites included in the Tentative List;
  19. Also urges the States Parties to adopt measures against World Heritage properties being used for military purposes and to stop uncontrolled development;
  20. Also expresses its utmost concern about the impacts of conflicts causing an escalation of the already severe poaching crisis in central Africa, as armed groups are financing their activities through illegal wildlife trade, which is having a severe impact on wildlife populations, thereby degrading the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of natural World Heritage properties;
  21. Appeals to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural objects and illegal wildlife trade, as well as cultural heritage protection in general, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 (2015), 2253 (2015) and 2347 (2017) and of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import and Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property;

    Emergency situations resulting from natural disasters

  22. Welcomes the efforts undertaken by the World Heritage Centre to implement the Strategy for Reducing Risks from Disasters at World Heritage Properties;
  23. Urges States Parties, in coordination with the World Heritage Centre, to give priority within international assistance in implementing emergency measures to mitigate significant damages resulting from natural disasters that are likely to affect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties;
  24. Encourages States Parties and other stakeholders to further strengthen international cooperation aiming at mitigating impacts of major natural disasters affecting World Heritage properties and reducing vulnerabilities on lives, properties and livelihoods;


    Other conservation issues
    Reconstruction

  25. Thanks the Government of Poland for hosting the International Conference on Reconstruction “The Challenges of World Heritage Recovery” (Warsaw, 6-8 May 2018), providing a forum for review of specific case studies and understanding of the role of reconstruction in recovery, especially in post-conflict and post-disaster situations;
  26. Welcomes the Warsaw Recommendation providing clear principles on reconstruction and recovery and requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to broadly disseminate it among States Parties, World Heritage stakeholders and partner organizations;
  27. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue the reflection and report back to its 43rd session in 2019 on the implementation of the Warsaw Recommendation;
  28. Encourages the ongoing cooperation with the World Bank and with United Nations agencies in addressing the challenges of World Heritage recovery and reconstruction;

    Climate Change

  29. Expresses its continued concern about the impacts of climate change on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties and reiterates the importance of States Parties undertaking the most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), by holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and by pursuing efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
  30. Notes with appreciation the initiatives taken by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to advance work on the updating of the Policy Document on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  31. Requests that the development of the updated Policy Document include consultation with States Parties, the Advisory Bodies and civil society, and be completed for consideration by the Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  32. Expresses its gratitude to the State Party of Germany for the organization of a workshop on World Heritage and Climate Change (Vilm, October 2017), to the State Party of the Netherlands for its generous support to the updating of the Policy Document and to the State Party of France for its generous support to the first global scientific assessment of climate change impacts on World Heritage-listed coral reefs;
  33. Thanks the Secretariat of the UNFCCC for its active participation in the above-mentioned workshop and inputs into the forthcoming broader Policy Document updating process;

    Absent or unclear boundaries

  34. Urges States Parties that still have properties with unclear boundaries and/or buffer zones to undertake the necessary mapping exercises to clarify their boundaries and buffer zones of properties at the time of their inscription, and submit those to the World Heritage Centre for subsequent examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  35. Reminds States Parties that any change to existing boundaries and buffer zones must be approved by the World Heritage Committee through the applicable procedures, as outlined in paragraphs 163-167 of the Operational Guidelines;


    Heritage Impact Assessments/Environmental Impact Assessments (HIAs/EIAs)

  36. Welcomes the increasing use of Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to assess the potential impact of proposed development projects on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of cultural World Heritage properties, and encourages States Parties to use the HIA methodology for all developments within or otherwise affecting cultural World Heritage properties, as part of the accepted decision-making process;
  37. Stresses the necessity for HIAs and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to be proportionate to the scope and scale of projects, with simpler assessments being undertaken for smaller projects and Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) for very large projects, and the necessity for assessments to be undertaken in a timely fashion and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, as part of notifications made under Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  38. Reiterates that HIAs and EIAs should include a dedicated section examining the potential impact of the project on the OUV of the World Heritage property, in accordance with the existing ICOMOS Guidance and IUCN Advice Note;
  39. Notes that HIAs cannot be assessed as stand-alone documents and requests States Parties to ensure that when HIAs are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies that they are accompanied by full details of the project to which they refer;
  40. Also welcomes the initiative of IUCN and ICCROM to develop further advice on impact assessment for cultural and natural heritage in the framework of the World Heritage Leadership programme with the support of Norway;

    Large scale development projects and Strategic Environmental Assessments
  41. Noting with concern that an increasing number of properties are threatened by large-scale development projects including dams, extractive industries, and transportation infrastructure, located both inside and outside their boundaries,
  42. Also noting that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) do not always allow for a broad enough assessment of the potential impact of these large-scale developments, nor an assessment of a broad enough range of options at an early enough stage in the planning process,
  43. Requests States Parties to ensure that the potential impacts of such large-scale developments on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties directly affected or located within their zone of influence are assessed through Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) at an early stage in the development of the overall project, before locations/routes have been fixed and prior to any approvals being given;
  44. Recalling Article 6 of the Convention, also requests States Parties to systematically inform the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, of any planned large-scale development projects in their territories that may impact on the OUV of a property, even if the property concerned is situated on the territory of other States Parties, and to ensure that these impacts are assessed as part of the SEA of the project concerned;

    Tourism and Visitor Management
  45. Acknowledging the contribution of sustainable tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the positive impact it can have on local communities and the protection of World Heritage properties, nevertheless notes with concern that the number of properties negatively affected by inadequate visitor management and tourism infrastructure development continues to increase;
  46. Requests States Parties to develop Visitor Management Plans that assess appropriate carrying capacity of properties for visitors and address the issue of unregulated tourism;
  47. Encourages the States Parties to support UNESCO in its effort to develop an overall Visitor Management Strategy for World Heritage, with policy recommendations to assist States Parties in addressing the issues of unregulated and unsustainable tourism use and development, and to provide resources to UNESCO for the implementation of the Strategy;

    Impact of sports facilities and activities on World Heritage properties
  48. Welcomes the continued agreement between IUCN and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) aiming at integrating biodiversity considerations in IOC’s processes, and takes note of the Sport and Biodiversity guide launched by IUCN as the first in a series of reports that will provide guidance to the sports sector regarding its potential impacts on nature, including on World Heritage properties
  49. Also welcomes the World Rowing Federation (FISA) commitment to respect and preserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of natural and mixed World Heritage properties, and calls on other Sport Federations to consider making similar commitments, including for all types of World Heritage, both natural and cultural;

    Dialogue with the extractive industries and the finance sector on the “No-go Commitment”
  50. Takes note of the continued dialogue between the World Heritage Centre and the extractive industries on extending the “No-go” commitment to other companies;
  51. Welcomes the growing interest from the investment sector for the conservation of World Heritage properties and strongly encourages all banks, investment funds, the insurance industry and other relevant private and public sector companies to integrate into their sustainability policies, provisions for ensuring that they are not financing projects that may negatively impact World Heritage properties and that the companies they are investing in subscribe to the “No-go commitment”, and invites them to lodge these policies with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre;
  52. Requests the World Heritage Centre, in cooperation with the Advisory Bodies, to continue the fruitful dialogue with extractive industries and the investment sector, including reflections on how to make these commitments and policies publically available online to inspire other companies in these sectors to follow suit;

    Earth Observation technologies
  53. Noting that Earth Observation satellite technologies and spatial analysis tools have tremendously improved over the past decade and that they provide powerful additional means for decision-makers and stakeholders of the Convention to find comprehensive solutions to today’s global challenges for World Heritage properties,
  54. Encourages States Parties to make full use of such Earth Observation technologies for the early detection of activities potentially harmful to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties, such as deforestation, mining, illegal fisheries, agricultural encroachment, etc. and to better understand trends and respond appropriately;

    Illegal trade in endangered species and the cooperation with the CITES Convention

  55. Reiterates its utmost concern about the growing impacts of the illegal trade in endangered species, which is affecting many natural World Heritage properties;
  56. Welcomes the increased attention to this threat and launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to fully implement Resolution 71/326 of United Nations General Assembly on “Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife”, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and with the full engagement of transit and destination countries;
  57. Also welcomes the continued fruitful cooperation between the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and the CITES Secretariat and invites the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to further strengthen this cooperation;

    Invasive species
  58. Notes with concern the important number of properties significantly affected by invasive alien species (IAS);
  59. Recalls its encouragement to States Parties to develop adequately-resourced IAS strategies that emphasize prevention and early warning and rapid response in World Heritage properties;
  60. Strongly encourages States Parties to incorporate IAS response strategies into climate change mitigation policies for World Heritage properties.

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Code: 41COM 7

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC/17/41.COM/7, WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/17/41.COM/7B and WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Thanks the State Party of Poland, Host Country of the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (Krakow, 2017), for having organized the first World Heritage Site Managers Forum, as a capacity-building exercise aiming at increasing the understanding of the World Heritage decision-making process among site managers, in order to achieve a more effective protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), takes note with appreciation of the World Heritage Site Managers’ Forum Statement and encourages the future Host Countries to continue this initiative and organize World Heritage Site Managers Forums in conjunction with the World Heritage Committee session;

    Statutory matters related to Reactive Monitoring
  4. Takes note of the practices of the Secretariat to address mass campaigns on state of conservation issues;
  5. Recalling the importance of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and its adequate implementation, further recalls Decision 40 COM 7, which requests the World Heritage Centre, in cooperation with the Advisory Bodies to evaluate the effectiveness of the Reactive Monitoring including procedures and case studies and to present a preliminary report for the consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018, if funds are available;

    Emergency situations resulting from conflicts
  6. Deplores the conflict situation prevailing in several countries, the loss of human life as well as the degradation of humanitarian conditions and expresses its utmost concern at the damage sustained and the threats facing cultural and natural heritage in general;
  7. Urges all parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural and natural heritage and to fulfill their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and the sites included in the Tentative List;
  8. Also urges States Parties to adopt measures against using World Heritage properties for military purposes;
  9. Takes note of the progress made by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to launch a reflection on a post-conflict recovery strategy, and of the support extended so far through technical assistance, capacity-building, and exchange of best practices in this regard, and recommends that further support for threatened or damaged World Heritage properties be pursued;
  10. Notes with concern that the conflict situation in several countries in the world has increased considerably the workload of the World Heritage Centre staff, and that an adequate implementation of the Action Plans for the Emergency Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Mali, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen requires additional financial and human resources at the World Heritage Centre and in the UNESCO field offices; also notes the increased demands on the resources of the Advisory Bodies;
  11. Calls on the international community to provide financial support for the implementation of the UNESCO Action Plans for the Emergency Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, including for additional human resources at the World Heritage Centre and in the UNESCO field offices;
  12. Also expresses its utmost concern about the impacts of conflicts causing an escalation of the already severe poaching crisis, as armed groups are financing their activities through illegal wildlife trade, which is having a severe impact on African wildlife, and uncontrolled development, threatening the very survival of species and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of natural World Heritage properties;
  13. Launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage objects (UNESCO 1970 Convention) and illegal wildlife trade, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and to pursue the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding cultural heritage protection in conflict areas, especially Resolution 2199 and 2347;

    Other conservation issues
    Reconstruction
  14. Noting the continued need to address the issue of reconstruction in World Heritage properties following conflicts or disasters, expresses its satisfaction that several international meetings have taken place or are being planned on recovery at large, and reconstruction in particular, and welcomes the offer of the Government of Poland to host an international conference on Reconstruction to provide guidelines to the World Heritage Committee to be held in Warsaw in March 2018;
  15. Encourages the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to continue, with all relevant stakeholders, the reflection on reconstruction within World Heritage properties as a complex multi-disciplinary process, towards developing new guidance to reflect the multi-faceted challenges that reconstruction brings, its social and economic context, the short- and long-term needs of properties, and the idea of reconstruction as a process that should be undertaken within the framework of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the properties;
  16. Urges States Parties to include risk mitigation measures in the management plans of World Heritage properties to address the potential effects of conflicts or disasters on their integrity;
  17. Also encourages the inclusion of capacity-building initiatives in the framework of recovery plans;
  18. Requests the States Parties involved in reconstruction projects to maintain dialogue and close consultation and cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;

    Climate change
  19. Recalls its Decision 40 COM 7 in relation to Climate Change, and requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to pursue the implementation of this Decision as a priority, within available resources;
  20. Expresses its utmost concern regarding the reported serious impacts from coral bleaching that have affected World Heritage properties in 2016-17 and that the majority of World Heritage Coral Reefs are expected to be seriously impacted by Climate Change;
  21. Noting that the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with IUCN, has initiated a scientific assessment by independent experts to better understand the impacts of Climate Change on coral reef World Heritage properties, also requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, as resources allow, to complete this assessment as soon as possible, and to ensure its findings are communicated effectively, and further requests the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to further study the current and potential impacts of Climate Change on the OUV of World Heritage properties;
  22. Reiterates the importance of States Parties undertaking the most ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and by pursuing efforts to limit the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” and strongly invites all States Parties to ratify the Paris Agreement at the earliest possible opportunity and to undertake actions to address Climate Change under the Paris Agreement consistent with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, that are fully consistent with their obligations within the World Heritage Convention to protect the OUV of all World Heritage properties;
  23. Takes note with satisfaction of the updated UNESCO Strategy for Action on Climate Change, approved by the UNESCO Executive Board at its 201st session in April 2017 (201 EX/Decision 5.I.B), and invites all States Parties to engage fully with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, for its effective implementation;
  24. Also recalls the need for all States Parties to continue, and where necessary to strengthen all efforts to build resilience of World Heritage properties to Climate Change, including by further reducing to the greatest extent possible all other pressures and threats, and by developing and implementing climate adaptation strategies for properties at risk of Climate Change impacts;
  25. Requests furthermore the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to report on progress in relation to action on World Heritage and Climate Change, and to present, subject to available time and resources, a proposed update to the “Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties”, for possible consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018, and notes with appreciation the willingness of civil society groups to engage in this process;

    Urban pressure
  26. Noting that the increasing urban pressure in and around numerous World Heritage properties has become a major threat to their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV),
  27. Taking note of the outcomes of the Habitat III Conference and notably the adoption of the “New Urban Agenda”,
  28. Also taking note of the necessity to pursue the application of the Historic Urban Landscape approach towards a more effective and durable conservation and management of the urban heritage inscribed on the World Heritage List, and requests the States Parties to fully consider the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) ;
  29. Calls on States Parties to take into account the recommendations of the Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development and take the necessary measures to integrate the role of culture in sustainable urban development in order to achieve SDG 11 – Target 4;

    Vandalism
  30. Notes with concern increasing vandalism at World Heritage properties and encourages States Parties to improve monitoring and security measures as well as awareness raising on the detrimental effects of vandalism, and to consider introducing creative solutions to allow visitors to express themselves without leaving permanent marks or damage;

    Disasters Risk Reduction
  31. Welcomes the Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy for reinforcing UNESCO’s action for the protection of culture and the promotion of cultural pluralism in the event of armed conflict (hereafter the Strategy), adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in 2015 (38 C/Res.48), whose implementation would be of great importance for the protection of World Heritage in situations of armed conflicts and disasters associated with natural and human-made hazards;
  32. Encourages States Parties to provide support to the implementation of the Strategy and its Action Plan, including through contributions to the Heritage Emergency Fund, as well as in kind contributions and advocacy at the highest international levels for the integration of a concern for culture in key international humanitarian, development, and peacekeeping operations;

    Invasive species
  33. Recalling its Decision 39 COM 7, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  34. Noting with concern the continued threat posed by invasive alien species on natural World Heritage properties, strongly encourages the States Parties to develop adequately resourced invasive alien species strategies that emphasize prevention and early warning and rapid response in World Heritage properties;

    Illegal trade of wildlife species
  35. Reiterates its utmost concern about the continued impacts of poaching and illegal logging on World Heritage properties driven primarily by the illegal trade of wildlife species and its products, and requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to take action, as resources permit, to strengthen the collaboration between the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the World Heritage Convention;
  36. Reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trade in wildlife and its products, including through the implementation of the CITES, and with the full engagement of transit and destination countries;

    Integrated approaches for the conservation of natural and cultural heritage
  37. Recalling that the World Heritage Convention explicitly links the concepts of cultural and natural heritage, highlights the importance of promoting integrated approaches that strengthen holistic governance, improve conservation outcomes and contribute to sustainable development;
  38. Notes with appreciation the growing interest and efforts by the States Parties and heritage practitioners to develop and apply integrated approaches to conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and encourages the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, in cooperation with universities and other relevant actors, to continue and expand these efforts, in accordance with the Policy Document for the integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the Processes of the Convention (2015);

    List of World Heritage in Danger
  39. Reiterates its request to the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies and States Parties, to promote better understanding of the implications and benefits of properties being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and to develop appropriate information material in this regard with a view to overcome the negative perceptions of the List of World Heritage in Danger. The information material should highlight the importance of the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value;

    Other issues
  40. Takes note with appreciation of the Chairperson of the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee’s initiative on structured dialogue with civil society and encourages States Parties and civil society organizations to continue exploring possibilities how civil society can further contribute to enhanced conservation of heritage on the site and national level and provide relevant input to the heritage related debate at the global level;
  41. Notes, in conformity with Resolution 20 GA 13 of the General Assembly of the World Heritage Convention and the Decision 39 COM 11 (Bonn, 2015) of the World Heritage Committee, the establishment of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on World Heritage as an important reflection platform on the involvement of Indigenous Peoples in the identification, conservation and management of World Heritage properties, with a particular focus on the nomination process.

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    Code: 40COM 7

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Having examined Documents WHC/16/40.COM/7, WHC/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/16/40.COM/7B, WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add.2,
    2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),

      Emergency situation resulting from conflicts
    3. Deplores the conflict situation prevailing in several countries, the loss of human life as well as the degradation of humanitarian conditions and expresses its utmost concern at the damage sustained and the threats facing cultural and natural heritage in general;
    4. Urges the States Parties to ratify international instruments such as the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and implores States Parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural and natural heritage and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and the sites included in the Tentative List;
    5. Also urges the States Parties to adopt measures that oppose World Heritage properties being used for military purposes;
    6. Takes note of the progress made by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to launch a reflection on a post-conflict recovery strategy, and of the support extended so far through technical assistance, capacity-building, and exchange of best practices in this regard, and recommends that further support for threatened or damaged World Heritage properties be pursued;
    7. Notes with concern that the conflict situation in several countries in the world has increased considerably the work load of the World Heritage Centre staff, and that an adequate implementation of the Action Plans for the Emergency Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Mali, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen requires additional financial and human resources at the World Heritage Centre and in the UNESCO field offices; also notes the increased demands on the resources of the Advisory Bodies;
    8. Calls on the international community to provide financial support for the implementation of the UNESCO Action Plans for the Emergency Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, including for additional human resources at the World Heritage Centre and in the UNESCO field offices;
    9. Also expresses its utmost concern about the impacts of conflicts causing an escalation of the already severe poaching crisis, as armed groups are financing their activities through illegal wildlife trade, which is having a severe impact on African wildlife, threatening the very survival of species and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties;
    10. Launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage objects and illegal wildlife trade, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the ratification of the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and to pursue the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 of February 2015 regarding Syria and Iraq;

      Other conservation issues

      Reconstruction

    11. Noting that the recent and wide-ranging deliberate destruction of World Heritage properties as a result of armed conflict in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Mali and Nigeria, and the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, have brought sharply into focus the issue of reconstruction in World Heritage properties; that several international meetings have taken place or are being planned on reconstruction; and that guidance within the Operational Guidelines is currently inadequate,
    12. Recommends that more in depth reflection is needed on reconstruction within World Heritage properties as a complex multi-disciplinary process, and that consideration should be given to developing new guidance to reflect the multi-faceted challenges that reconstruction brings, its social and economic context, the short- and long-term needs of properties, and the idea of reconstruction as a process that should be undertaken within the framework of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the properties;
    13. Welcomes the offer of the Government of Poland to host an international conference on Reconstruction to provide guidelines to the World Heritage Committee;

      Climate Change
    14. Taking note of the agreement reached during the 21st conference (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in 2015, requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses to the adverse effects of Climate Change;
    15. Recommends that the World Heritage Centre strengthen its relations with other organizations working on Climate Change, particularly with the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) secretariats, and specifically with regard to the effect of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, and also requests the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to work with IPCC with the objective of including a specific chapter on natural and cultural World Heritage in future IPCC assessment reports;
    16. Further requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to periodically review and update the “Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties”, so as to make available the most current knowledge and technology on the subject to guide the decisions and actions of the World Heritage community;

      Dams
    17. Notes with significant concern that an increasing number of properties are facing potential threats from major dam projects, considers that the construction of dams with large reservoirs within the boundaries of World Heritage properties is incompatible with their World Heritage status, and urges States Parties to ensure that the impacts from dams that could affect properties located upstream or downstream within the same river basin are rigorously assessed in order to avoid impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);

      Extractive industries
    18. Noting with significant concern that World Heritage properties are increasingly threatened by extractive industries, as confirmed by the 2014 IUCN World Heritage Outlook report, by the World Heritage Centre’s analysis of issues reported in state of conservation reports also revealing the potential threat from extractive activities to cultural properties, and by the 2016 report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), welcomes the “No-go” commitments to World Heritage properties made by Tullow Oil plc and CEMEX in November 2015 and April 2016 respectively, and reiterates its call on other extractive industry companies and investment banks to follow these examples to further extend the “No-go” commitment;
    19. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7, once again urges all States Parties to the Convention and leading industry stakeholders to respect the “No-go” commitment by not permitting extractive activities within World Heritage properties, and by making every effort to ensure that extractives companies located in their territory cause no damage to World Heritage properties, in line with Article 6 of the Convention;

      Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs)/Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs)
    20. Notes with concern that a majority of properties potentially affected by proposed development projects, proposed legal instruments, and proposed management systems have not benefited from an assessment of impacts on their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment and ICOMOS’ Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties, and requests all States Parties to the Convention to ensure that potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts on the OUV, including from projects located outside the boundaries of natural and/or cultural World Heritage properties, are specifically assessed within the framework of the EIA and HIA required by the applicable laws and regulations, and that reports of such assessments are submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
    21. Recalls Article 6 of the Convention according to which “Each State Party to this Convention undertakes not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage […] situated on the territory of other States Parties to this Convention”, and also requests all States Parties to the Convention to ensure that EIAs and HIAs include an assessment of impacts on the OUV of World Heritage properties situated on the territory of other States Parties, as appropriate;
    22. Further requests the Advisory Bodies, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre, to consider opportunities to streamline their guidance on impact assessment in order to develop one single guidance document for the assessment of impacts on both natural and cultural properties;

      Integrated management, Decision making, Governance
    23. Noting with concern that the lack of an integrated management approach is reported to cause challenges to the coordination of management and decision making processes of properties where different authorities are involved, in particular in the cases of mixed, serial, and transboundary properties, urges States Parties to establish appropriate mechanisms in order to facilitate a coordinated approach to the management of all properties, in line with the requirements of the Operational Guidelines as laid out in Paragraphs 112, 114, and 135, and encourages States Parties with contiguous natural properties on either side of their international borders, which are not listed as transboundary properties, to establish appropriate mechanisms for cooperation between their respective management authorities and ministries;
    24. Also encourages States Parties to promote recognition and awareness across all relevant national and regional agencies of the World Heritage status of the properties on their territory, and to develop mechanisms to ensure consideration of impacts on Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in the decision making processes of relevant ministries, before permits are issued for developments that could negatively impact the OUV;

      Ground transport infrastructures
    25. Notes with concern that the number of cases of ground transport infrastructure having potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of World Heritage properties is continuing to grow, and calls upon States Parties to carry out Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEAs) early in the process of transportation planning to allow for potential impacts of the OUV, including those resulting from foreseeable associated future developments, to be identified prior to the development of specific projects;
    26. Encourages States Parties to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) and Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) on ground transport projects, once they are designed, with multiple options to ensure that transportation needs can be met with minimal impacts on the OUV of World Heritage properties;

      List of World Heritage in Danger
    27. Takes note of its discussions under agenda items 7A and 7B, and requests the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies and States Parties, to promote better understanding of the implications and benefits of properties being inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and to develop appropriate information material in this regard with a view to overcome the negative perceptions of the List of World Heritage in Danger. The information material should highlight the importance of the protection of the OUV;

      Reactive Monitoring
    28. Requests the World Heritage Centre, in cooperation with the Advisory Bodies to evaluate the effectiveness of the Reactive Monitoring including procedures and case studies and to present a preliminary report for the consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018, if funds are available.

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    Code: 39COM 7

    The World Heritage Committee,
    1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7,
    2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014), and the Bonn Declaration on World Heritage adopted on 29 June 2015,
    Conflict situation in the Arab States Region
    1. Deplores the conflict situation prevailing in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the loss of human life as well as the degradation of humanitarian conditions and expresses its utmost concern at the damage sustained and the threats facing these properties and cultural heritage in general;
    2. Urges all parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural heritage and to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and the sites included in the Tentative List;
    3. Also urges the States Parties to adopt measures for the evacuation of World Heritage properties being used for military purposes;
    4. Launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in combatting the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage, in particular coming from Syria and Iraq as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 of February 2015;
    5. Recommends that the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies develop a post-conflict strategy, including means to extend support for reconstruction of damaged World Heritage properties through technical assistance, capacity-building, and exchange of best practices taking into account the conclusions made by the two seminars recently held by World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS on this subject;
    Emerging and recurring conservation issues
    1. Takes note of the increasing number of State of Conservation reports due to inadequate management systems or plans and urges States Parties to ensure that management systems and plans are in place at the time of inscription;
    2. Notes with utmost concern, the continuously increasing pressure associated with and the growing impacts from poaching on the Outstanding Universal Value of many natural World Heritage properties and the increasing involvement of organized crime, and reiterates its call for strong international collaboration and coordination inter alia with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and with the full engagement of transit and destination countries to control the illicit trade in wildlife and its products;
    3. Notes with concern the significant threat posed by invasive species to natural World Heritage properties, strongly encourages States Parties to develop adequately resourced strategies to eradicate invasive species in World Heritage properties and prevent their (re-)introduction and/or establishment, and also calls on the international community to support invasive species eradication campaigns in affected properties;
    4. Taking note of the benefits to States Parties of systematically utilizing Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) in the review of development projects, encourages States Parties to integrate the EIA/HIA processes into legislation, planning mechanisms and management plans, and reiterates its recommendation to States Parties to use these tools in assessing projects, including assessment of cumulative impacts, as early as possible and before any final decision is taken, and, taking into account the need for capacity-building in this regard, requests the States Parties to contribute financially and technically towards the development of further guidance regarding EIA/HIA implementation, by the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre, based on case studies and field experience;
    5. Acknowledging that World Heritage properties are being increasingly affected by Climate Change, also strongly encourages States Parties to participate in the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015, with a view to achieving a universal climate agreement and mobilize global climate action on the ground, and recalls its Decision 31 COM 7.1, adopted at its 31st session (Christchurch, 2007) in which it adopted a carbon neutral policy, in view of its application for all future sessions, to the extent feasible;
    6. Appreciates the constructive dialogue, which has taken place between the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, and also requests that this dialogue be extended to the other Advisory Bodies to ensure that cultural aspects are also taken into account in the future;
    Knowledge management of the state of conservation reports 
    1. Urges States Parties to submit to the Committee through the Secretariat, by the statutory deadline set and in one of the working languages of the World Heritage Convention (English or French), their reports on the state of conservation of specific properties (Paragraph 169 of the Operational Guidelines), in order to allow for sufficient time for consultation and informed decision making at the Committee sessions;
    2. Adopts the revised format below for the submission of state of conservation reports by the States Parties, decides that this revised format is compulsory and applies with immediate effect, and that it should be included in the Operational Guidelines, and reminds States Parties that these reports must be submitted in one of the working languages of the Convention (English or French):
    Name of World Heritage property (State(s) Party(ies)) (Identification number)
    1. Executive Summary of the report
      [Note: each of the sections described below should be summarized. The maximum length of the executive summary is 1 page.]
    2. Response to the Decision of the World Heritage Committee
      [Note: State(s) Party(ies) are requested to address the most recent Decision of the World Heritage Committee for this property, paragraph by paragraph.]
      If the property is inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
      Please also provide detailed information on the following:
      1. Progress achieved in implementing the corrective measures adopted by the World Heritage Committee
        [Note: please address each corrective measure individually, providing factual information, including exact dates, figures, etc.]
        If needed, please describe the success factors or difficulties in implementing each of the corrective measures identified
      2. Is the timeframe for implementing the corrective measures suitable? If not, please propose an alternative timeframe and an explanation why this alternative timeframe is required.
      3. Progress achieved towards the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR)
    3. Other current conservation issues identified by the State(s) Party(ies) which may have an impact on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value
      [Note: this includes conservation issues which are not mentioned in the Decision of the World Heritage Committee or in any information request from the World Heritage Centre]
    4. In conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, describe any potential major restorations, alterations and/or new construction(s) intended within the property, the buffer zone(s) and/or corridors or other areas, where such developments may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, including authenticity and integrity.
    5. Public access to the state of conservation report
      [Note: this report will be uploaded for public access on the World Heritage Centre’s State of conservation Information System (https://whc.unesco.org/en/soc). Should your State Party request that the full report should not be uploaded, only the 1-page executive summary provided in point (1.) above will be uploaded for public access].
    6. Signature of the Authority
    1. Notes with appreciation the high number of States Parties which have authorized the public upload of their state of conservation reports, facilitating their consultation by all stakeholders of the Convention and contributing to an improved transparency of the reactive monitoring process, and reiterates its encouragement to all States Parties to continue do so in the future.

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    Code: 33COM 7C

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Having examined Documents WHC-09/33.COM/7B and WHC-09/33.COM/7B.Add,

    2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.129, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

    3. Takes note of the process being followed to consult State Parties to ensure the accuracy of the state of conservation reports during their preparation, as presented in the introduction of Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B and requests the World Heritage Centre to make every effort to ensure that States Parties' input is included in these reports before they are distributed;

    4. Recognizes the efforts on the inclusion of references in the Working Documents on State of Conservation to the image gallery of the web-pages of the World Heritage Centre and encourages States Parties to provide the World Heritage Centre, whenever possible, with verified electronic illustrative material;

    5. Considers that its request, in Decision 32 COM 7B.129, to add a link to illustrative material also aimed at providing background information on cases indicating the potential of visual impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of a property and to make visual impact simulations provided by States Parties available to Members of the Word Heritage Committee;

    6. Encourages States Parties to provide electronic illustrations of proposed projects in their State of Conservation Reports and to make these available to the Members of the World Heritage Committee;

    7. Acknowledging the increasing number of State of Conservation reports and that reviewing these is a key tool for ensuring the effective conservation and credibility of World Heritage properties,

    8. Noting the results of the analytical document on trends provided with Circular Letter CL/WHC-09/03 and the in-depth discussion that took place at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee,

    9. Also noting the increasing number of natural disasters affecting World Heritage properties, requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to prepare a report on the progress made in the implementation of the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties and submit it for the examination by the Committee at its 34th session in 2010,

    10. Also considers it desirable to receive from the World Heritage Centre a methodological framework for the processes of:

    a) Initiating the consideration of a property in the State of Conservation reports,

    b) Requesting a State Party progress or state of conservation report within a defined timeframe, and

    c) Evaluating desired State of Conservation Statements submitted by State Parties;

    11. Requests the World Heritage Centre to:

    a) Prepare, in cooperation with the Advisory Bodies, information on criteria, thresholds and processes applied for the initiation of State of Conservation reports and review of Desired State of Conservation statements for discussion at the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2010;

    b) Also prepare, in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, a summary of the trends, changes and threats based on an analytical summary of the state of conservation of World Heritage properties over 5 years for discussion at the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2010, with a view to make recommendations for prioritizing management efforts in the context of the Global Strategy;

    12. Further requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, when preparing state of conservation reports, to distinguish between issues that impact or have the potential to impact on a site's Outstanding Universal Value from issues that may impact values that are not recognized as being of Outstanding Universal Value;

    13. Notes that all reactive monitoring missions proposed in the draft decisions on State of Conservation of properties on the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger are currently suggested to be joint missions of the World Heritage Centre and at least one Advisory Body, and considers that this has the potential to increase the overall budgetary requirements for missions and human resources;

    14. Requests the World Heritage Centre to introduce a section on proposed missions to the relevant State of Conservation reports which outlines the objectives of a proposed mission as well as the specific roles and tasks of all bodies involved;

    15. Also notes the petition on the Role of Black Carbon in the endangering of World Heritage properties and encourages all States Parties to exchange information on existing national policies, regulations and opportunities for immediate voluntary action to control the generation of black carbon that can affect World Heritage properties;

    16. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to adopt a consistent approach to reporting on the impact of climate change on World Heritage properties and to ensure that future decisions in this respect are based on the Committee's Strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses to climate change;

    17. Further noting the profusion of terms used to describe the spatial and functional relationships among World Heritage properties, their buffer zones and the areas around these properties, requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop a glossary of terms in this respect, as well as proposed revisions to the Operational Guidelines regarding buffer zones, taking into account the results of the Expert Meeting on this issue for consideration by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;

    18. Also encourages all States Parties to fully implement paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines by informing the World Heritage Centre of restorations, constructions and other projects that may affect the Outstanding Universal Value of a property in their territory.

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    Code: 32COM 7A.32

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7A,

    2. Recalling Decisions 29 COM 7B.a, 30 COM 7.1 and 31 COM 7.1, adopted at its 29th (Durban, 2005), 30th (Vilnius, 2006) and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions respectively,

    3. Also recalling Resolution 16 GA 10, adopted by the General Assembly of States Parties to the World Heritage Convention at its 16th session (UNESCO, 2007),

    4. Noting the real danger from climate change faced by many World Heritage properties,

    5. Decides to adopt the criteria proposed for assessing properties which are most threatened by climate change for inclusion on the List of World Heritage in Danger, noting that the emphasis of the corrective measures to be recommended should be on "adaptation" rather than on "mitigation";

    6. Approves the following amendments to the Operational Guidelines:

                a) Amendment to Paragraph 179 (b) (vi):

                          threatening impacts of climatic, geological or other environmental factors. gradual changes due to geological, climatic or other environmental factors.

                b) New Paragraph : Paragraph 180 (b)(v):

                          threatening impacts of climatic, geological or other environmental factors.

                c) Amendment to Paragraph 181:

                          In addition, the factor or factors which are threatening threats and/or their deleterious impacts on the integrity of the property must be those which are amenable to correction by human action. In the case of cultural properties, both natural factors and man-made factors may be threatening, while in the case of natural properties, most threats will be man-made and only very rarely a natural factor (such as an epidemic disease) will threaten the integrity of the property. In some cases, the factor or factors which are threatening threats and/or their deleterious impacts on the integrity of the property may be corrected by administrative or legislative action, such as the cancelling of a major public works project or the improvement of legal status.

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    Code: 16GA 10

    The General Assembly,

    1. Having examined Document WHC-07/16.GA/10,
    2. Recalling Decisions 30 COM 7.1 and 31 COM 7.1, adopted respectively at the 30th (Vilnius, 2006) and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions of the World Heritage Committee,
    3. Taking into account the relevant issues identified in the recent Thematic Debate of the Executive Board on UNESCO’s role in addressing climate change within its mandated areas of competence and also noting the upcoming meetings on climate change in Bali in December 2007 (Thirteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 13) and the third meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 3), Bali, Indonesia, 3 to 14 December 2007) and in Denmark in 2009 (Fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 15) and the fifth meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 5), Copenhagen, Denmark, 30 November 2009 - 11 December 2009);
    4. Adopts the “Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties” and strongly recommends its use by all concerned, together with the report on “Predicting and Managing the impacts of climate change on World Heritage” and the “Strategy to Assist States Parties to Implement Appropriate Management Responses” contained in World Heritage Paper No: 22;
    5. Encourages UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely the Policy Document, the Report and Strategy, referred to in paragraph 2 above, and other relevant publications to all concerned, including the general public, and promote their application;
    6. Requests the World Heritage Committee to institute a mechanism for the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to periodically review and update the Policy Document, and other related documents, so as to make available the most current knowledge and technology on the subject to guide the decisions and actions of the World Heritage community.
    7. Urges the States Parties to participate in the United Nations climate change conferences with a view to achieving a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement, and to fund and support the research needs as identified in the adopted Policy document.
    8. Further requests the Director-General and the World Heritage Committee to strengthen its relations with all organizations working with climate change particularly the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) secretariats, and specifically with regards to the effect of climate change on World Heritage properties, with a view to delivering as one UN.

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    Code: 30COM 7.1

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1,

    2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.a adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

    3. Also recalling the submission in 2005 of four petitions by civil society and non-governmental organizations on the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, complemented by an additional petition in February 2006,

    4. Further recalling paragraph 44 of the Operational Guidelines,

    5. Thanks the Government of the United Kingdom for having funded the meeting of experts, which took place on the 16th and 17th of March 2006 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and also thanks the United Nations Foundation for its support, as well as all the experts who contributed to the meeting;

    6. Endorses the "Strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses" described in Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1, and requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre to lead the implementation of the "Global level actions" described in the Strategy through extrabudgetary funding and also takes note of the report on "Predicting and managing the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage";

    7. Encourages UNESCO, including the World Heritage Centre, and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely this strategy, the report, and any other related publications through appropriate means to the World Heritage community and the broader public;

    8. Requests States Parties and all partners concerned to implement this strategy to protect the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of World Heritage sites from the adverse effects of Climate Change, to the extent possible and within the available resources, recognizing that there are other international instruments for coordinating the response to this challenge;

    9. Invites States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to build on existing Conventions and programmes listed in Annex 4 of Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1, in accordance with their mandates and as appropriate, in their implementation of Climate Change related activities;

    10. Also requests States Parties, the World Heritage Centre, and the Advisory Bodies to seek ways to integrate, to the extent possible and within the available resources, this strategy into all the relevant processes of the World Heritage Convention including: nominations, reactive monitoring, periodic reporting, international assistance, capacity building, other training programmes, as well as with the "Strategy for reducing risks from disasters at World Heritage properties" (WHC-06/30.COM/7.2);

    11. Strongly encourages the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in collaboration with States Parties and other relevant partners to develop proposals for the implementation of pilot projects at specific World Heritage properties especially in developing countries, with a balance between natural and cultural properties as well as appropriate regional proposals, with the objective of developing best practices for implementing this Strategy including preventive actions, corrective actions and sharing knowledge, and recommends to the international donor community to support the implementation of such pilot projects;

    12. Further requests the States Parties and the World Heritage Centre to work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with the objective of including a specific chapter on World Heritage in future IPCC assessment reports;

    13. Requests the World Heritage Centre to prepare a policy document on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties involving consultations with relevant climate change experts and practitioners of heritage conservation and management, appropriate international organizations and civil society, to be discussed at the General Assembly of States Parties in 2007. A draft of the document should be presented to the 31st session in 2007 for comments.

    This draft should include considerations on:

          a) Synergies between conventions on this issue,

          b) Identification of future research needs in this area,

           c) Legal questions on the role of the World Heritage   Convention with regard to suitable responses to Climate Change,

           d) Linkages to other UN and international bodies dealing with the issues of climate change,

           e) Alternative mechanisms, other than the List of World Heritage in Danger, to address concerns of international implication, such as climatic change ;

    14. Considers that the decisions to include properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of threats resulting from climate change are to be made by the World Heritage Committee, on a case-by-case basis, in consultation and cooperation with States Parties, taking into account the input from Advisory Bodies and NGOs, and consistent with the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

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    Code: 29COM 7B.a

    The World Heritage Committee,

    1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev and the Draft Decision 29 COM 7B.a.Rev,

    2. Recognizing the work being undertaken within the framework of the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), and the need for a proper coordination of such work with the activities under the Convention,

    3. Takes note of the four petitions seeking to have Sagarmatha National Park (Nepal), Huascaran National Park (Peru), the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) and the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) included on the List of World Heritage in Danger;

    4. Appreciates the genuine concerns raised by the various organizations and individuals supporting these petitions relating to threats to natural World Heritage properties that are or may be the result of climate change;

    5. Further notes that the impacts of climate change are affecting many and are likely to affect many more World Heritage properties, both natural and cultural in the years to come;

    6. Encourages all States Parties to seriously consider the potential impacts of climate change within their management planning, in particular with monitoring, and risk preparedness strategies, and to take early action in response to these potential impacts;

    7. Requests the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies, interested States Parties and petitioners, to establish a broad working group of experts to: a) review the nature and scale of the risks posed to World Heritage properties arising specifically from climate change; and b) jointly develop a strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses;

    8. Welcomes the offer by the State Party of the United Kingdom to host a meeting of such working group of experts;

    9. Requests that the working group of experts, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and other relevant UN bodies, prepare a joint report on “Predicting and managing the effects of climate change on World Heritage”, to be examined by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006);

    10. Strongly encourages States Parties and the Advisory Bodies to use the network of World Heritage properties to highlight the threats posed by climate change to natural and cultural heritage, start identifying the properties under most serious threats, and also use the network to demonstrate management actions that need to be taken to meet such threats, both within the properties and in their wider context;

    11. Also encourages UNESCO to do its utmost to ensure that the results about climate change affecting World Heritage properties reach the public at large, in order to mobilize political support for activities against climate change and to safeguard in this way the livelihood of the poorest people of our planet.

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