Following the request of the Committee at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), The World Heritage Centre received a progress report from the State Party on 1 February 2005, as well as proposals for the redefinition of boundaries.
The report stressed how the international Technical Workshop of May 2004 for the conservation of this property, organized by UNESCO in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology of Nepal, had provided an opportunity to gather all stakeholders and discuss conservation issues for the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage property and identify measures to safeguard the value of the site. Following the International Workshop, and with a view to implement its recommendations, the State Party organized a National Workshop to organize the work of three thematic task forces focusing on legal policies, conservation issues and community involvement. These three working groups meet each month at the UNESCO Office in Kathmandu to monitor progress.
This was followed by the establishment of a High Level Governmental Committee, which drew up a 2-year Action Plan based on the recommendations of the above-mentioned International Workshop. This Action Plan, which includes specific activities targeting legislative improvement, management coordination, capacity-building, community awareness-raising and identification of operational projects, is awaiting cabinet adoption for financing.
A UNESCO Chair for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage was established in September 2004 at the Khwopa Engineering College in Bhaktapur, aiming to establish a Master’s course in Heritage Conservation by the academic year 2005-2006. A Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping project was also carried out for Changu Narayan Monument Zone by Finn-Map with financial support of the Finnish Government, where the students of Khwopa College received training in GIS.
In the summer of 2004, the World Heritage Centre supported the elaboration of an inventory undertaken by the University of Venice as well as the identification of policies and measures to prevent the demolition of traditional houses in Patan Monument Zone. This inventory was meant to contribute to collecting the information required by the State Party to respond to the Committee’s request to redefine the boundaries of the property.
As a follow up to a survey of the seven Monument Zones of the property with financial support of the Government of Germany, moreover, a publication called “Conserve! Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site Potential Areas for Cooperation” was prepared, which generated wide interest from the public.
The report prepared by the State Party also included extensive information on the state of conservation of each Monument Zone and, when appropriate, proposals for the modification of their boundaries.
As invited by the Committee at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), the World Heritage Centre assisted the State Party in identifying and supporting a technical advisor for the national and local authorities to provide professional expertise, from March to June 2005.
The ICOMOS/World Heritage Centre reactive monitoring mission, requested by the Committee at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), was undertaken from 15 to 20 March 2005, in order to examine whether the Outstanding Universal Value of the Kathmandu Valley as such had been retained or lost. This was done through visits to each of the seven Monument Zones and taking into account the report prepared by the State Party.
In Hanuman Dhoka, Pashupatinath and Bauddhanath, the Mission recommended the reduction of the core zones, as proposed by the State Party, in consideration of the partial erosion of the traditional urban fabric. Considering the very minor loss of traditional urban texture in Bhaktapur and Swayambhunath and the intactness of the setting of Changu Narayan, the Mission recommended maintaining their perimeters as proposed by the State Party. For Patan, the Mission felt that further documentation was required in order to assess the degree of deterioration of the heritage significance, which is currently being finalized by the State Party. In conclusion, the Mission found that the World Heritage property had retained its overall Outstanding Universal Value, under the original criteria (iii), (iv) and (vi), but that this was threatened as long as an effective management system is not put in place. The Mission suggested as well that the name of the World Heritage property might be changed, upon recommendation of the 28th session of the Committee (Suzhou, 2004), into “Historic Monument Zones of the Kathmandu Valley”, to more adequately reflect its character and nature.
The Mission also noted the urgent need for the establishment of an integrated Management Plan harmonizing and strengthening the various systems in place at the seven different Monument Zones. Such Management Plan should be combined with appropriate building regulations and technical specifications that would take into account the legitimate needs for changes, typical of a living city, while ensuring that the minimum conservation requirements are observed. It was felt by the Mission that the development, through a participatory approach, of such Management Plan and building regulations would constitute the benchmark against which to measure the progress made by the State Party towards the safeguarding of the World Heritage property in view of its possible removal from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Thanks to the generous financial support of the Dutch Government, the World Heritage Centre aims precisely at assisting the State Party in the elaboration of this Management Plan, in consultation with ICOMOS, with a view to hopefully completing it by the summer of 2006. A risk management programme will be incorporated within this initiative through training, public awareness raising and policy-level advocacy.