1.         Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís (Costa Rica) (C 1453)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2014

Criteria  (iii)

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/1453/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 17,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1453/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1453/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 27 November 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, including an extensive technical conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1453/documents/ and addresses the Committee’s previous recommendations.

On 22 March 2018, the State Party provided additional information consisting of the updated Management Plan (2017-2020) for the property, and its approval note by the National Museum of Costa Rica (MNCR) from March 2018.

The State Party reports the following:

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

The State Party should be commended for its progress made in the implementation of a number of the Committee’s recommendations, and particularly for the promotion of diverse educational and cultural activities and projects related to the property. Further efforts to finalize cooperation agreements with local communities and to develop educational initiatives that highlight the property as a reference for cultural heritage potential in Costa Rica, should be encouraged.

However, delays are noted in the implementation of actions that are essential for the proper management and conservation of the property, particularly the preparation of the Osa Canton Regulatory Plan, the Risk Preparedness and Disaster Management Plans, and management arrangements with the local and indigenous communities. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit a work plan and timetable for the further implementation of these and other recommended activities, along with the commitment to increase the human and financial resources required for ensuring their implementation and the broader conservation and management objectives for the property.

It is noted with concern that certain key threats to the conservation of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including its authenticity and integrity, have not been resolved. The HIA of the international airport immediately adjacent to Finca 6 has not been finalized, although it may be expected that the airport, with its runway and auxiliary structures, would have a major impact on the property as a whole and in particular the Finca 6 component.

In March 2018, ICOMOS submitted a Technical Review to the State Party of the HIA for the El Diquís Hydroelectric Plant project. Further technical details were subsequently provided by the State Party, including visualisations, and the review was augmented accordingly, noting the following:

It should be noted that the Management Plan 2017-2020 highlights the “excellent view of the delta and its surroundings” from the Batambal site, and the need to “better understand the delta’s dynamics of occupation [and to] reinforce the values and significance of the asset”, while one of its objectives includes the assessment of the “eventual expansion” of the declared sites’ buffer zones. The narrow focus of the HIA appears to be at odds with the aims and objectives of the Management Plan.

It is suggested that the Committee express its concern at the potential negative impact of the proposed hydroelectric dam project on the landscape context of the chiefdom settlements, and thus on the OUV of the property.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.36

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Commends the State Party on the progress made in the implementation of its recommendations with regard to the acquisition of land, staffing and educational activities;
  4. Encourages the State Party to pursue its efforts to finalize cooperation agreements with local communities for management purposes, and to develop educational initiatives that highlight the property as a reference for cultural heritage potential in Costa Rica;
  5. Notes with concern, however, delays in the implementation of actions that are essential for the proper management and conservation of the property, in particular the preparation of the Osa Canton Regulatory Plan, the Risk Preparedness and Disaster Management Plans, and management arrangements with the local and indigenous communities;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, a work plan and timetable for the implementation of its recommendations and to increase the human and financial resources necessary for these actions, and for the broader conservation and management objectives for the property;
  7. Urges the State Party to conclude the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the international airport project and to provide it, including a section in the impact of the project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, as soon as it becomes available;
  8. Notes with concern that the HIA for the El Diquis Hydroelectric Plant has taken a narrow focus and that technical details and visualisations show that, although the dam will be located outside of the Diquís delta, ancillary constructions in the wider setting of the Batambal site would have potentially negative impacts on the landscape context of the chiefdom settlements, and thus on the OUV of the property, and are at odds with the aims of the Management Plan, and therefore also urges the State Party to reconsider the project;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.