1.         Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation) (N 768rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (x)

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/768/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

2001: UNESCO/UNDP mission; 2007, 2012: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/768/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

The State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, which was requested by the Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013). The World Heritage Centre received detailed third party information on 13 February and on 6 March 2015 on the state of conservation of the property, and in particular on the plans for the construction of a gas pipeline through the property. This information was shared with the State Party, with a request for verification and comments, on 18 February 2015 and on 10 March 2015, but at the time of preparation of this report, no reply was received. According to the information provided, the Altai pipeline was included in the scheme of future pipeline development until 2030, which was approved in August 2013 by Government Order N° 1416-r, which is available on a government website (http://government.ru/media/files/41d48491818d6eb9f890.pdf). It further informs about the signature, in November 2014, of a Framework Agreement between the Governments of the Russian Federation and China on gas delivery via the western route, which includes the Altai pipeline, as well as of a Memorandum for cooperation in the oil and gaz sector. Also, there have been numerous articles in the specialized press, including statements by the CEO of the pipeline development company Gazprom, that a contract between China and the Russian Federation on the provision of gas via the western route and the Altai gas pipeline could be signed this year.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

It should be recalled that on 30 April 2013, the State Party reported that “the design works on the Altai pipeline project have been suspended and that no further funding for the design will be provided in the period 2012-2015”. Taking note of the information referred to in the preceding paragraph, it is recommended that the Committee express its concern about the fact that shortly after, the Government of the Russian Federation included the Altai pipeline in its future pipeline development programme.

At the 37th session, the Committee also expressed concern about a decree adopted in 2012 by the Republic of Altai to change the protection regime of the property by allowing the “construction and exploitation of linear objects as well as structures that are an integral part of the process” on the territory of the Ukok Quiet Zone. The decree weakens the legal provisions protecting the property and as such affects its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) (the legal protection being one of the three pillars of OUV).

It is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its position that the pipeline crossing the property would compromise its OUV, and a decision to go forward with the project would represent a clear case for inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to make an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property. It is further recommended that the Committee request the States Parties of the Russian Federation and China to consider alternative solutions for gas supply projects that would not pose a threat to the property.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.21

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.25, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report, as requested by its Decision 37 COM 7B.25, as well as information requested by the World Heritage Centre on activities and signed agreements between the Governments of the Russian Federation and China on gas delivery via the western route, which includes the Altai pipeline;
  4. Expresses its utmost concern about Government Order N° 1416-r of August 2013, which includes the Altai pipeline in its future pipeline development programme, in spite of the State Party’s assurance given to the Committee at the 37th session that the design works on the Altai pipeline project had been suspended and that no further funding for the design would be provided in the period 2012-2014;
  5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to take an unequivocal decision to abandon the construction of the Altai gas pipeline through the property and urges the States Parties of the Russian Federation and China to consider alternative routes for gas supply projects;
  6. Reiterates its position that any decision to go forward with the gas pipeline through the property would represent an ascertained danger to its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, and would represent a clear case for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Also reiterates its request to ensure that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for any infrastructure development in or around the property, including the gas pipeline and hydropower projects, which could affect its OUV, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  8. Reiterates its concern about Decree 212 N 202 dated 2 August 2012 of the Republic of Altai, which allows the “construction and exploitation of linear objects as well as structures that are an integral part of the process” and therefore, weakens the legal provisions protecting the property, stresses that, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines, the modification of legal protection status of an area included in a property is considered as a potential danger to its OUV and a reason for inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and urges the State Party to revoke the decree;
  9. Requests the State Party to continue its efforts to implement the recommendations of the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property in particular the status of the Altai pipeline project, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016, with a view to considering, in case of the confirmation of ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.