1.         Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands (Russian Federation) (C 632)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1992

Criteria  (iv)

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/632/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

August 2013: joint UNESCO/ICCROM/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 28 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/632/documents. Although it acknowledges the complexity and extent of the property covering a group of islands within the Solovetsky archipelago, it reports on the following, in relation mostly to the main island:

Moreover, a draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) has been submitted and will be reviewed by the Committee under item 8E.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

As highlighted by the State Party, most of the hydrological regime of the archipelago has been neglected for more than a century. It is noted with concern that, due to this neglect of the lakes, canals, dams and constructions for regulating water drainage, traditional water regulation practice is being lost, resulting in dramatic changes to the landscape and its once productive meadows and lakes.

While emergency prevention works began in 2016, it is noted that the waterworks are generally in a highly negative condition.

It is recommended that the Committee reiterate its concern regarding the alarming state of conservation of the monastic irrigation system, and request the State Party to define, implement and secure resources for all necessary mid- and long-term preventive conservation and maintenance measures, as a matter of urgency.

It is also highlighted that the main island is under considerable pressure from various constituencies, and reconciling the needs of the church, local communities and visitors, while respecting the OUV of the property, is a challenge. Plans for major developments are currently being drawn up for the communities’ essential services and to facilitate tourism, and these need to be clearly integrated within an agreed development and conservation framework and based on an approved Statement of OUV.

It is recommended that the Committee express concern that, notwithstanding the commitment shown by the State Party to undertake HIAs for these developments, it is difficult for these to be carried out satisfactorily on a one-by-one basis without assessing the overall cumulative impact, and without the necessary planning frameworks being in place.

The State Party noted the development, as requested by the Committee, of the Master Plan, the Management Plan based on a cultural landscape approach, and a Conservation Plan to set out conservation approaches for monastic buildings, the monastic irrigation system, pilgrimage routes and vernacular timber buildings, and the overall landscape of the islands.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre drafts of all above-mentioned plans, for review by ICOMOS.

These plans, once completed and approved, must provide the context for possible development proposals. The plans also need to clearly indicate the full extent of the transformations planned for the near future and how they can be accommodated without negative impacts on OUV.

It is noted that the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation has issued a Decree to create a working group to classify the archipelago and adjoining territories as Cultural Heritage objects of federal significance, namely as religious and historical sites. 

The Committee has repeatedly expressed concern about the location and scale of proposals for a museum building. The 2015 ICOMOS Advisory mission supported the transfer of the museum function from the Monastic complex to a new building, facilitating the revival of monastic life within the traditional buildings, but it did not support the work that had already started on a large museum complex on a prominent site – the plans for which were not submitted to the World Heritage Centre. At its 40th session, the Committee requested the State Party to halt all works, demolish what had been built and submit new proposals. In November 2016, during a meeting at the World Heritage Centre, the State Party submitted revised proposals for the same location, without offering alternatives. The meeting did not approve any proposals, and the plans are under review by ICOMOS.

It is noted that the State Party invited an Advisory mission to review the project proposals of a new museum building in the vicinity of the Solovetsky Monastery.

However, in view of the considerable development pressures on the main island, and the current proposals for major new building complexes (such as hospitals, schools and apartment blocks) in advance of an approved and implemented management and planning framework, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to consider the overall challenges facing the Solovetsky archipelago and the scope of the proposed developments over the next decade, and to advise on whether and how this can be satisfactorily accommodated within the sensitive landscape of the main island, and whether the current management structures are effective enough to ensure new development does not erode the special characteristics of the main island and impact adversely on OUV, and how these structures might be strengthened.

The mission should also assess current conditions at the property, evaluate potential impacts of development proposals, and review if the property is faced with threats, which could have deleterious effects on its inherent characteristics and meets the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in line with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines. Considering the vulnerable environment, it is recommended that the State Party invite a representative of IUCN to participate in the mission, as all possible risks and ecological impact of active intervention in the established hydrological balance and ecosystem of the property shall be assessed.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.49

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.56, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Acknowledges the progress made by the State Party to address the decisions of the Committee, notably the issuing of a Decree establishing a working group in charge to progress with classification of Solovetsky archipelago and adjoining territories as Cultural Heritage objects of federal significance, namely as a religious and historical site;
  4. Notes the progress with the development of the Master Plan of the Solovetsky settlement and the Management plan, and requests the State Party to pursue this work and submit these draft documents to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Notes with great concern the negative condition of the monastic irrigation system, with its lakes and canals, and also requests the State Party, as a matter of urgency, to develop a Conservation Plan for the overall property, to adequately plan and implement conservation measures, as well as to define and implement, immediately, all relevant preventive conservation measures regarding the monastic irrigation system, as well as to secure all relevant funds for mid- and long-term conservation and maintenance measures;
  6. Welcomes the assurance of the State Party that Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) will be undertaken for all projects;
  7. Notes with concern that the Solovetsky main island is currently facing many development projects related to the need to upgrade housing, education and health facilities, and tourism facilities, on the island, and also notes with concern that proposals for large building complexes are being considered in advance of the Master Plan, the Management Plan and the Conservation Plan being completed, approved and implemented; and without a formally approved Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  8. Noting that new revised plans have been submitted for the Museum Complex, recognizes the efforts taken by the State Party to implement the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee and the Advisory Bodies on the Museum Complex project, and requests the State Party to report progress to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December 2017, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Further requests the State Party not to resume work on this project until all revised proposals and possible alternative location have been fully reviewed by the Advisory Bodies and examined by the World Heritage Committee;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to invite a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, in consultation with IUCN, in the light of the considerable challenges facing the property, which should asses the overall issues concerning the Solovetsky archipelago, consider the revised plans for the museum building and the full scope of the development that is being proposed over the next decade, to advise on whether and how this might be satisfactorily accommodated within the main island, and whether the current management structures are effective enough to ensure new development does not erode the special characteristics of the main island and impact adversely on OUV, and, if not, how these might be strengthened;
  11. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/8E,
  2. Congratulates the States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties located within their territories;
  3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC/17/41.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:

    ARAB STATES

    • Egypt, Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur

    EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

    • Armenia, Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots
    • Armenia, Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin
    • Canada, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
    • Czech Republic, Litomyšl Castle
    • France, Bourges Cathedral
    • France, Chartres Cathedral
    • France, Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay
    • France, Historic Centre of Avignon: Papal Palace, Episcopal Ensemble and Avignon Bridge
    • France, Historic Site of Lyon
    • France, Jurisdiction of Saint-Emilion
    • France, Palace and Park of Fontainebleau
    • France, Paris, Banks of the Seine
    • France, Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance in Nancy
    • France, Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France
    • Ireland, Sceilg Mhichíl
    • Italy, Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)
    • Portugal, Cultural Landscape of Sintra
    • Russian Federation, Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent
    • Russian Federation, Cultural and Historic Ensemble of the Solovetsky Islands
    • Russian Federation, Historic and Architectural Complex of the Kazan Kremlin
    • Russian Federation, White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal
    • Sweden, Hanseatic Town of Visby
    • Sweden, Rock Carvings in Tanum

    LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARRIBBEAN

    • Dominica, Morne Trois Pitons National Park;

  4. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger will be reviewed in priority by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and further requests the World Heritage Centre to upload the two language versions on its website.