Decision : CONF 204 IV.B.25
The Sundarbans (Bangladesh); Sundarbans National Park (India)
The Committee when it inscribed «The Sundarbans» of Bangladesh in the World Heritage List (Naples, 1997) encouraged the authorities of Bangladesh and India to discuss the possibility of creating a trans-frontier site with the adjoining Sundarbans National Park and World Heritage site (India). The Ministry of Environment and Forests of Bangladesh with support from the Asian Development Bank, is undertaking a multi-million dollar project, entitled the "Sundarbans Biodiversity Conservation Project". The Sundarbans World Heritage site is considered to be one of the main components of this project under which a management plan will be developed and implemented. IUCN Bangladesh will be involved as an independent agency assisting with the implementation of this project. A meeting held in Bangladesh in February 1999 informally discussed amongst other items the possibility of having The Sundarbans World Heritage site of Bangladesh and the Sundarbans National Park World Heritage site of India combined into a single site inscription.
In a separate initiative, WWF-International is launching a study financed by a SFR 50,000 grant for investigating transborder ecological and conservation aspects of the tiger population inhabiting the Sundarbans ecosystem. The two World Heritage sites together support the largest and the most viable wild tiger population in the world. The WWF-project intends to promote co-operation between the Bangladesh and Indian site staff and scientists for the conservation and management of tiger populations, as a first step that could lead towards discussions to consider the joint inscription of the two sites as a single entry in the World Heritage List. The Ministry of Environment and Forests of the Government of Bangladesh, via their fax of 22 June 1999 informed the Centre that they accept the suggestion made by the Centre (with the agreement of the relevant authorities of the Ministry of Environment and Forests of India) to host a meeting in Bangladesh to discuss co-operation between the two sites. The Government of Bangladesh has indicated that they would inform the Centre of the venue, timing and financial requirements of organising such a planning meeting in due course.
IUCN supported the efforts of the Government of Bangladesh to strengthen the management at this site. IUCN Bangladesh country office is assisting with this project. IUCN reiterated its recommendation for the desirability of combining the Sundarbans World Heritage sites of Bangladesh and India into one single site, which is effectively managed in a co-ordinated way. IUCN highlighted the “Parks for Peace” initiative, which works on transboundary protected areas and may be applicable in this case.
The Bureau commended the Government of Bangladesh and the Asian Development Bank for their efforts to strengthen the management of The Sundarbans (Bangladesh) and WWF-International in launching a study on transborder aspects of tiger ecology and conservation. The Bureau thanked the Government of Bangladesh for agreeing to host a planning meeting to build co-operation between the management of these two sites. The Bureau requested the Centre and IUCN to extend their fullest co-operation to the Governments of Bangladesh and India, and to all other international, regional and national organisations who may wish to participate in building a programme of co-operation which could result in the eventual joint inscription of the two sites as a single entry on the World Heritage List.