1.         East Rennell (Solomon Islands) (N 854)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2013-present

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

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

Adopted; see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6965

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2006-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 56,335
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 56,000, UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust: Technical Support to East Rennell; USD 35,000, UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust: Support to East Rennell

Previous monitoring missions

March – April 2005: UNESCO/IUCN Monitoring mission; October 2012: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2015: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

The State Party did not submit its report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017).

On 3 May 2018, the World Heritage Centre received a letter from “the Tuhunui Tribe of East Rennell” (quote) noting that in its recent Council Meeting the Tuhunui Tribe decided to “withdraw all its customary land from the World Heritage Program Site in East Rennell”. The letter also states that all previous negotiations regarding the nomination of East Rennell and subsequently its World Heritage status “were made by community elected groups and not Tribes who owned the many land areas”. It further notes that it opposes the proposal by the Government of Solomon Islands to declare the area of the property as protected under the Protected Area Act 2010.

On 16 May 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party on this matter to request its comments. At the time of writing this document, the State Party had not yet responded to the request.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

In the absence of a report on the state of conservation of the property, the current situation at the property and the progress achieved by the State Party with the implementation of the Committee’s requests and towards achieving the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) cannot be evaluated. It is regrettable that in the absence of the report, no update is available on the results of the important national Round Table, which was organized by the State Party in August 2017 to discuss future strategies for the property with customary owners, land users and other stakeholders.

The petition submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the Tuhunui Tribe raises serious concerns on the practical modalities of customary ownership, management and decision-making. While the East Rennell Council of Chiefs, its Paramount Chief, and the Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association have expressed their support to the World Heritage process, the letter from the Tuhunui Tribe indicates that there are opposing views among local and indigenous communities. It should be recalled that this natural property remains one of the few to be inscribed on the World Heritage List with a traditional customary governance system, and ensuring that the rights of customary land owners and land users are fully respected is therefore crucial for securing the long term conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

One of the concerns of the customary land owners and land users is that few tangible socio-economic benefits have emerged from the 20-year World Heritage designation of East Rennell. The development of livelihoods for the local communities that derive benefits from the conservation of the property is a real priority. It is therefore recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to seek technical and financial support to address this issue and call on the international donor community to support efforts in this regard.

According to a map annexed to the petition, the customary land of the Tuhunui Tribe comprises a significant percentage of the lands within the property. The petition states that the Tuhunui Tribe are opposed to the designation of East Rennell under the Protected Area Act 2010 – one of the measures proposed by the State Party to enable the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and reflected in the DSOCR as adopted by the Committee. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to understand the complex interplay of customary rights within the property, taking a facilitating role in the dialogue between and amongst different stakeholders/communities and to evaluate how the concerns expressed by customary land owners can be addressed, whilst fully respecting the right to self-determination. The mission would provide timely advice to the State Party regarding possible measures, which can be implemented in order to achieve the DSOCR, in close consultation with customary land-owners, and could follow up with international partners and ministries regarding the development of alternative livelihoods. The mission should also assess the current state of conservation of the property and the progress achieved in addressing threats identified in previous state of conservation reports, including invasive species, bauxite mining and logging.

In the absence of any information regarding progress achieved towards the DSOCR, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.41

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add2,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.19, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by the Committee;
  4. Notes with utmost concern the letter submitted to the World Heritage Centre by the Tuhunui Tribe of East Rennell, raising serious concerns on the practical modalities of customary ownership, management and decision-making, and expressing their wish to “withdraw all its customary land from the World Heritage Program Site in East Rennell” in light of their concern that they are not benefiting from its World Heritage status, and their opposition to the property being declared under the Protected Area Act 2010;
  5. Considers that the long term conservation of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value can only be secured with the full consent of the customary land owners and land users in full respect of their rights;
  6. Also considers that the development of sustainable livelihoods for the local communities is of utmost importance, requests the State Party to seek technical and financial support to address this issue and calls upon the international community to support the State Party with this effort;
  7. Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property:
    1. to facilitate a dialogue between and amongst different stakeholders/communities and to evaluate how the concerns expressed by the customary land owners can be addressed, whilst fully respecting their right to self-determination,
    2. to provide advice to the State Party regarding possible measures which can be implemented in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), in close consultation with local communities and customary land owners,
    3. to assess the current state of conservation of the property and the progress achieved towards combatting threats identified in previous state of conservation reports, including invasive species, bauxite mining and logging;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 43rd session in 2019;
  9. Decides to retain East Rennell (Solomon Islands) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 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/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: