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 1996-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 133,395
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property (recently): USD 100,000 under the Youth Volunteers for Cultural Heritage Preservation project (2003-2006); USD 519,000 for Cua Van Floating Cultural Centre, a component of the Ha Long Ecomuseum (funded by the Government of Norway, for the period of 2003-2006).

Previous monitoring missions

January 2003 and December 2006: UNESCO/IUCN mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Population growth;

b) Increased tourism pressure and development;

c) Urban and industrial development;

d) Lack of financial and technical resources;

e) Absence of an integrated planning approach.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2011

On 5 April 2011, a report on the state of conservation of the property was submitted by the State Party. The report provides an overview of a large number of ongoing projects within and adjacent to the property as well as the State Party’s response to Decision 33 COM 7B.20, adopted at the World Heritage Committee’s 33rd session (Seville, 2009). This Decision particularly requested the State Party to provide information on the landfill and other major developments taking place outside the boundaries of the property, but which could have an adverse effects on it Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). 

a) Urban and industrial development

The State Party reports that the land filling projects around Ha Long City have mostly been completed. The construction of the coastal road from Lan Be Clock Post to Bai Tho Mountain is reported to be in its last phase. The State Party notes that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) were approved and their recommendations implemented. However, it does not provide these EIAs or specific information on the impacts of these developments on the property’s OUV, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 33 COM 7B.20, including the Cai Lan Port expansion and the Cam Pha Cement Plant. The State Party also notes that measures are being taken to address pollution from commercial and domestic waste and wastewater, but that these are difficult to implement due to the legislative framework of the property and surrounding area. Reports received by IUCN indicate that the property’s values are under serious pressure from urban and industrial development. Coastal waters, particularly around big cities and towns such as Ha Long, Cam Pha and Van Don, are reported to be affected by pollution from unsafe waste and wastewater disposal from residential areas, industrial activities, and site clearance for construction and transportation. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that an integrated planning approach is needed to address the continuing pressures on the property from urban and industrial development, and recall the World Heritage Committee’s request in Decision 33 COM 7B.20 thatno development having a significant direct or indirect impact on the OUV of the property take place.

b) Tourism management

The State Party reports that it is investing in the maintenance and upgrading of tourism facilities, as well as expanding tourism activities to the buffer zone in Bai Tu Long Bay, in order to develop existing and new forms of tourism and minimize tourism pressure on the property. However, the progress in addressing tourism pressures is reported to be very slow. The State Party also notes that some education, information and communication (EIC) campaigns aimed at raising communities’ awareness of heritage protection have been carried out. IUCN has received reports that current tourism activities are focused around a few central visitor sites within the property, that most boat tours use only four of the ten recognized very crowded circuits through the bay, and that there are a number of other tourism management issues related to presentation of the property’s values and the quality of tourism experience.

The State Party reports that the future of the Cua Van Cultural Centre (CVCC) is being carefully assessed, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009). The State Party notes that no new infrastructure developments are planned, and that a plan for the sustainable operation of CVCC is being developed to ensure that any activities undertaken do not negatively impact the OUV of the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that it is unclear whether this includes an assessment of a possible relocation of the CVCC to a less sensitive location in the buffer zone of the property, as recommended by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009).

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN note the State Party’s continued efforts to develop tourism while minimizing tourism pressure on the property, and recommend that it consider options to disperse visitors throughout the property in order to reduce visitor pressure and associated potential impacts on the property’s OUV.

c) Fishing and aquaculture

The State Party reports that the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee has approved a programme on protection and development of fishery resources, aiming to restore, regenerate and develop fishery resources in the province, protect ecosystems and raise communities’ awareness of the importance of protecting fishery resources. Part of this programme is the development of regulated aquaculture areas. The State Party provides few details on the effective implementation of this programme. However, IUCN notes that it has received reports that aquaculture may not have been developed in the designated areas as planned, which could lead to potential impacts on the property.

d) Absence of an integrated planning approach

In relation to the Committee’s request to further reinforce the Ha Long Bay Management Board (HLBMD), the State Party reports on the outcomes of the Ha Long Bay Management Department Institutional Strengthening Project, which include the organization of several staff training courses, workshops and study tours. It notes that a comprehensive management plan for the property was developed for the period 2010-2015, which is appended to its report. The State Party states that this plan will support the implementation of the 2020 Master Plan. The management plan includes objectives for scientific research, supervision and inspection of socio-economic activities, and the application of science and technologies to the investment in infrastructure and technical development. The State Party reports that the plan foresees the cooperation and collaboration between the HLBMD and other relevant provincial departments, as well as Ha Long City People’s Committee. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the management plan is an important step towards adopting an integrated management approach, but note that it is unclear how it complements the 2020 Master Plan. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that the OUV of the property has been under continuing pressure due to tourism, fishing and other activities within its boundaries, and from major economic development projects and landfill activities in the areas surrounding the property. They note that no new infrastructure development is planned at the Cua Van Cultural Centre, and recommend that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to submit the plan for its sustainable operation to the World Heritage Centre. While the State Party has made significant efforts to address the multiple pressures affecting the property, urban and industrial developments and tourism pressures, in particular, continue to negatively affect its values. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that without effectively implementing an integrated planning approach, it will be extremely difficult to successfully address threats resulting from these multiple development and population pressures. They note that the 2020 Master Plan for the property is an important step towards adopting an integrated planning approach, and that its implementation should be accelerated. They also note that the State Party has yet to undertake a Management Effectiveness Evaluation (MEE) for the property, as requested in Decision 33 COM 7B.20, and recommend that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its request that the State Party complete an MEE in line with the ‘Enhancing our Heritage’ toolkit and take measures to implement the management recommendations resulting from this assessment. They also note that the State Party does not provide EIAs or specific information on the impacts of the landfill and other major developments taking place outside the boundaries of the property on its OUV, as requested by the World Heritage Committee. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee urge the State Party to comply with this request. 

Decision Adopted: 35 COM 7B.20

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/7B.Add,

2. Recalling Decision 33 COM 7B.20, adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009),

3. Notes that the State Party is developing a plan for the sustainable use of the Cua Van Cultural Centre, and requests the State Party to submit this plan to the World Heritage Centre;

4. Also notes the efforts made by the State Party to address the multiple development and population pressures affecting the property, but remains concerned that these continue to negatively affect its Outstanding Universal Value;

5. Further notes that without an integrated planning approach, it will be extremely difficult to successfully address these multiple pressures over the long-term, and therefore also requests the State Party to accelerate the effective implementation of the 2020 Master Plan for the property;

6. Reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property, in line with the 'Enhancing our Heritage' tool kit, in order to inform the management of the multiple pressures affecting the property's Outstanding Universal Value, including tourism, urban and industrial development, fishing and aquaculture among others, and to take measures to implement the management recommendations resulting from this assessment, and reiterates its invitation to the State Party to consider requesting International Assistance from the World Heritage Fund to support this evaluation;

7. Also reiterates its request that the State Party provide Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) on the impacts of the landfill and other major developments taking place outside and within the boundaries of the property on its Outstanding Universal Value;

8. Encourages the State Party to consider options for better management of visitors whilst enhancing visitor's quality experience, including options to disperse visitors throughout the property in order to reduce visitor pressure, and to improve signage and presentation of the property's Outstanding Universal Value at key visitor locations;

9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property, including an update on the outcome of the Management Effectiveness Evaluation for the property and copies of EIAs on the impacts of the landfill and other major developments taking place outside and within the boundaries of the property on its Outstanding Universal Value, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.