Agreement between Lithuania and the Russian Federation keeps Curonian Spit off List of World Heritage in Danger
In 2003, the World Heritage Committee expressed its concern over potential oil pollution and damage to the Spit’s fragile ecological system from a project by a Russian company, which set up an oil platform in the Baltic Sea , 22 kilometres from the World Heritage site. The 27th session of the Committee strongly advised that the project should not commence before a joint Lithuanian-Russian Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had been carried out, and a work plan developed for prevention/mitigation measures to ensure conservation of the property.
At its 28th session in 2004, the Committee set a deadline of February 1, 2005 for the two StatesParties to present a written agreement to undertake an EIA. In the absence of such an agreement, the Curonian Spit would be automatically inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
In addition to a Round Table convened by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in November 2003, Lithuania and the Russian Federation held several bilateral talks to discuss how to comply with the World Heritage Committee’s decision. On January 28 they announced their agreement for a post-project environmental assessment.
The Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Mr Themba P. Wakashe and the Director of the World Heritage Centre, Mr Franscesco Bandarin, warmly welcomed the agreement, and considered that this should serve as an example for transboundary cooperation under the World Heritage Convention for the Safeguarding of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The World Heritage Committee, of which both Lithuania and the Russian Federation are elected members, will examine the joint agreement and the general state of conservation of the property at its 29th session to ne held in Durban, South Africa, July 2005.