1.         Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) (N 764)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2009-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Sale and lease of public lands for the purposes of development within the property leading to the destruction of mangrove and marine ecosystems.

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6208

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1825

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6208

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 140,000: i) USD 30,000 from the Rapid Response Facility for the monitoring of unauthorized activities in the Bladen Nature Reserves which were impacting the property; ii) USD 30,000 for emergency conservation actions in favour of the critically endangered wide sawfish (2010); iii) USD 80,000 in support of public use planning and site financing strategy development for the Blue Hole Natural Monument (2008-2009)

Previous monitoring missions

March 2009: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; January 2015: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Technical Mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 31 March 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/documents/ and reports the following progress towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR):

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The progress achieved by the State Party towards the achievement of the DSOCR is commendable. Revision of a number of key regulatory instruments, particularly the Forests (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations, has included a special focus on protection of the property. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to finalize the legal drafting of the Mangroves Regulation as a matter of priority and to submit the legal document to the World Heritage Centre as soon as it becomes available. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN are ready to assist the State Party with technical advice to help accomplish the respective indicators related to coastal development and mangrove protection under the DSOCR.

The actions undertaken by the State Party to translate the Cabinet Decision banning offshore oil exploration within the property to concrete regulations are noted. While noting the commitment of the State Party to include all components of the property within the areas, which will be subject to the ban, the justification of a one-kilometre buffer zone around those areas remains unclear. Furthermore, it is unclear how the revision of the Petroleum Regulatory Framework is linked to this process. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the exact maps of the areas where oil exploration will be prohibited by the proposed ban, as soon as they become available and prior to completion of the legislation of the ban, and to provide further details regarding the revision of the Framework.

The cartographic information on land tenure within the property provided by the State Party is noted. Considering the high proportion of private land or areas with unknown land tenure within the property, it is crucial that strict and clear restrictions and regulations on development are established in order to ensure that no development can be allowed, which would result in negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. The above-mentioned Mangroves Regulation, as well as revised and strengthened EIA regulations can provide the necessary regulatory framework, but it will be essential that the necessary resources are allocated for its enforcement. It is also crucial that a permanent legally binding moratorium on the sale of the remaining nationally held lands is introduced as a matter of priority and it is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its request in this regard.

The commencement of the implementation of the ICZM Plan is welcomed. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to continue its efforts in this regard and to ensure that the necessary resources are available in the long-term for the implementation of the plan.

Finally, while the efforts undertaken by the State Party are welcomed, further efforts are required in order to fully achieve the DSOCR, in particular regarding regulations on oil exploration and exploitation in and surrounding the property. It is therefore recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7A.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.32, adopted at its 40th Session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the progress achieved with the finalization of the Draft Forest (Protection of Mangroves) Regulations, and requests the State Party to finalize the legal drafting and adoption of the Regulations as a matter of priority and to submit the final legal document to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as it becomes available;
  4. Also welcomes the commencement of the implementation of the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP) and encourages the State Party to continue to ensure that the resources required for the long-term implementation of the Plan are secured;
  5. Notes the progress achieved towards developing concrete regulations based on the Cabinet Decision to ban offshore petroleum exploration within the property, but reiterates its position that the adequacy of the one-kilometre buffer zone needs revision to secure the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the full implementation of the Desired state of conservation for removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR);
  6. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the exact maps of the areas where oil exploration will be prohibited by the proposed ban, as soon as they become available, and prior to completion of the legislation of the ban;
  7. Taking note of the ongoing revision of the Petroleum Exploration Framework, reiterates its request to the State Party to ensure that the protection of the property’s OUV is fully integrated into this process;
  8. Also taking note of the confirmation by the State Party that the voluntary moratorium on sale and lease of lands within the property remains in place, notes with concern that the cartographic information provided by the State Party shows a high proportion of private land within the property, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to develop a legally binding instrument to ensure a permanent cessation of all sales and leases of state owned land throughout the property;
  9. Further welcomes the ongoing revision of the Environmental Impact Assessment system and urges the State Party to fully integrate the protection of the property’s OUV into this process to ensure that the revised regulations guarantee that no areas within the property and in its immediate vicinity can be developed in ways that would negatively impact on its OUV, consistent with the requirements under the DSOCR;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018;
  11. Decides to retain Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: