1.         Ha Long Bay (Viet Nam) (N 672bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (vii)(viii)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1996-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 67,615
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Urban Pressure; Tourism Pressure; Mining, Oil/Gas Exploration; Illegal fishing; Lack of monitoring system; Lack of human or financial resources; Lack of institution co-ordination.

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

As requested by the 27th session of the Committee, the State Party submitted, in a letter dated 1 March 2004, a report addressing the main issues identified by the Committee (27 COM 7b.13, paragraph 4(a) and (b)). Fishing communities have resided in the area for generations, long before the designation of the site as World Heritage.  A survey conducted in January 2003 revealed that Ha Long Bay has four fishing villages comprising 253 households or 1202 people. These numbers reflect an increase in the population due to natural factors and immigration. However, IUCN noted that the Quang Ninh Provincial authorities have issued a number of regulations governing migration to the site. Furthermore, the report noted that:


(a)  a plan is available for understanding the factors that influence the environment of Ha Long Bay and pursuing the conservation and promotion of the heritage values and is being implemented;

(b)  some floating “schools” have been established to increase fishermen’s awareness of heritage values and to better involve them in management and conservation of the property; and

(c)  activities of fishermen who live on Ha Long Bay are closely regulated, curtailing any unplanned development and ensuring proper enforcement of the Quang Ninh Province People Committee regulations on planning for fishing villages in the Bay.


The report observed that Ha Long Bay is a favoured environment for aquaculture. Some species, such as the red snapper, garrupa and several species of molluscs, have a high economic value. Development and zoning of the aquaculture areas are receiving increased attention. According to the report the development of economic and social activities in the Bay, especially aquaculture, has not had a negative impact on the integrity of the property; the quality of seawater and the sedimentary bed are still within acceptable environmental standards set by the Vietnamese Government.


The Centre and IUCN reviewed the information sent by the State Party, via a letter dated 8 April 2003, on the work plan for the environmental management of Ha Long Bay. An impressive compendium of environmental management, awareness building and educational projects, with agendas, budgets and responsible authorities indicated for most of the planned and on-going activities, had been provided. But the information does not include specific environmental improvements that may have been brought about by the implementation of any of the projects listed and hence the overall positive impacts of the different projects and activities on the environment of Ha Long Bay remain difficult to assess. The State Party may be requested to consider identifying specific cases where successful environmental improvements, compared to the time of the inscription of the property, have been put in place. Such “success stories” may be useful communication tools for public relations, particularly for international visitors, many of whom seem to perceive a growing number of development projects in and around Ha Long Bay and interpret that growth as a threat to the World Heritage values of the property.


The Centre has been working with a number of partners including the IUCN Office in Viet Nam and the Directorate of Tourism for the Quang Ninh Province to encourage private enterprises in the tourism sector to co-operate with the Ha Long Bay Management Authority in maintaining environmental quality. Initial discussions held in late 2003 were encouraging and additional discussions between the Centre’s partners and a number of hotel and tour operator groups are foreseen during April-May 2004. The outcome of these discussions will be reported at the 28th session of the Committee.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.13

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Commends the State Party for its efforts to monitor immigration of fishermen into the site, setting standards for compliance by aquaculture practitioners and a number of other regulatory and legislative instruments for the management of the Ha Long Bay World Heritage area;

2. Urges the State Party to take an integrated planning approach in the interest of sustainable development and conservation of the values of the World Heritage property, giving special attention to the many threats impacting on the Property which include increasing population in the floating community, massive tourism infrastructure development, urbanization, aquaculture activities, industrialization etc.;

3. Commends the State Party for the substantial provincial efforts in capacity building, awareness raising and addressing challenges for sustainable development in the region and invites the international community to support these efforts ;

4. Applauds the increased effective collaboration between Ha Long Bay Management Authority, the Provincial Government and national government, with various international partners such as IUCN, the US Government and others in capacity-building initiative promoting integrated marine and coastal management in the Province of Quang Ninh;

5. Notes with appreciation State Party efforts to develop a number of environmental management, awareness building and capacity building projects and programmes with international, national and provincial partners;

6. Invites the State Party to consider documenting the outcomes of successful projects and programme that have helped to improve environmental quality and disseminate the information internationally and nationally; and

7. Recommends the State Party to co-operate with IUCN and the World Heritage Centre to involve tourism and other development sector enterprises in the Ha Long Bay area to contribute towards conservation and effective management of the property.