1.         Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Micronesia (Federated States of)) (C 1503)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2016

Criteria  (i)(iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2016-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

In progress

Corrective measures identified

In progress

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

In progress

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1503/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2017-2017)
Total amount approved: USD 30,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1503/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided: USD 120,000 for the preparation of a nomination file and the management plan for Nan Madol by the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust. USD 26,232 for Technical Support to Nan Madol, Micronesia (Danger list) by the Netherlands Funds-in-Trust

Previous monitoring missions

January 2018: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1503/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

A joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in January 2018 (mission report available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1503/documents/).

On 5 February 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at the abovementioned web address, and describes the steps taken to implement the Decisions of the Committee and the recommendations of the 2018 mission, as follows:

The report also describes progress in relation to responses to the phased programme recommended by the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission, with funding from the US Ambassadors’ Fund for Heritage Conservation for a LiDar (“light detection and ranging”) survey of the property and the island of Temwen (in the buffer zone), and for the construction of sea wall reinforcements, ongoing maintenance, the improvement of walkways, opening of additional culverts, silt fencing, and clearing in highlands to prevent sedimentation from entering Madolenihmw Bay. The work will be carried out under the direction of the Pohnpei Historic Preservation Officer and the FSM Historic Preservation Division.

The World Heritage Centre has been informed through third party information of the construction of a resort hotel on an island situated in the buffer zone of the property. Clarifications were requested from the State Party on this matter on 21 February 2019. At the time of writing this report, no response had been received yet.

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

The state of conservation of the property is poor and deterioration processes are ongoing. Severe invasive plant and tree growth is causing movement, displacement and collapse of structures. Siltation of channels between the islets has rendered most of them dysfunctional, further accelerating invasive growth. Wave action, forecast to increase in severity due to climate change, is causing washout and is undermining the monumental retaining walls in exposed seafront areas, adding to the impact of damage by vegetation.

The 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission report advised that tackling the property as a whole is impossible and impractical, and that the maintenance required would be virtually impossible. A staged recovery programme is proposed which encompasses short-term, medium-term and long-term actions to rehabilitate key parts of the property. The report advocated achievable goals as the first phase of the multi-phase project for areas where intervention is needed and maintenance is feasible. There has been significant progress in undertaking the suggested short-term phase of the works in 2018.

The mission also considered that, before corrective measures could be defined, there needs to be a much clearer idea of how the conservation of the property will move forward with the augmented resources available to reverse the danger arising from a lack of conservation and ongoing management that the property now faces. Therefore, given the range of unknown elements at this stage, the mission did not consider that it was yet possible to define a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) for adoption by the Committee.

The draft legislation, which is due to be passed in the next legislative session, will create a Nan Madol Historic Preservation Trust, thereby resolving issues regarding ownership and management of the property. The appointment of the interim “Property Manager” is a significant step, but the duration of this appointment is not specified, and a permanent manager is required.

The Conservation Plan is a well-structured document that, in effect, is a practical action plan. It is influenced by the desire for more tourist access and is accordingly structured in three parts: structures and pathways that already have access; areas that have the potential for visitor access; and platforms that need urgent and sustained conservation. The Plan acknowledges the need for significant international financial support for the actual realization of the conservation objectives and the absence of a professional pool of conservation experts, with only one local archaeologist based at the property.

In 2018, vegetation clearance was undertaken under the manager’s supervision and financed through International Assistance. It achieved an initial non-invasive clearing (without root disturbance) of vegetation overgrowth at two of the principal sites: Nan Dowas and Pahn Kedira. Channel clearance was commenced to facilitate visitor access to these sites by boat, but progress is very limited so far. At two locations, Pahn Kedira and Paikapw, superficial growth was removed from retaining walls. A beneficial natural movement of silt was noted where this has been done. A boat has now been donated by the FSM Congress to facilitate continuing work on the removal of vegetation. An additional 4-5 sites will now be targeted to prepare for visitors.

Funding has been secured from the Embassy of the United States of America to conduct a LiDar survey of the property and the islands of Temwen. This will assist in defining the full extent of structures and assessing the impact of future sea-level change. Multispectral imaging will enable an analysis of the species composition of vegetation. The funding will also enable the completion of the short-term actions recommended by the 2018 mission and will facilitate larger, medium-term conservation interventions such as sea wall reinforcement, on-going maintenance planning, and replacement of raised pathways and additional culverts in causeways and silt fencing of sakau farming clearance in the highlands to prevent further siltation. Support for the continuation of this work using the US Ambassadors Fund will include the assistance of the US Navy’s Seabees for the works. However, a dedicated capacity-building programme is urgently needed to ensure local engagement.

The State Party also secured funding from Japan to achieve progress with the development of a Visitor Centre, which is small in size and lacks some important essential elements for visitor management. It also lacks a proposal for museum storage/display. This Centre is being planned in advance of the development of a Tourism Strategy, which is needed urgently to identify which parts of the property can be accessible to visitors, as this will affect the conservation programme. This Tourism Strategy was initially envisaged as part of the Management Plan, which is yet to be completed.  

The progress now being made with the development of a Conservation Plan, the clearing of vegetation funded by the International Assistance and a LiDar survey supported by the US Embassy is welcomed. This should begin to allow defining a medium- and long-term phased recovery programme, which could in turn allow for the development of corrective measures and a DSOCR to be presented to the Committee.

Finally, while no further information is available concerning the hotel construction mentioned in the report, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to provide detailed information on any proposed and on-going projects, in particular those related to infrastructure development to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. The information provided should include Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) in keeping with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7A.43

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the appointment of an interim “Property Manager”, but encourages the State Party to work towards a long-term commitment for this post;
  4. Notes that progress has been made on amendments to draft legislation LB392 and that it is scheduled to be approved in the next legislative session;
  5. Also notes that the 2018 mission advised that tackling the restoration of the property as a whole is impossible and impractical, as the maintenance required would be virtually impossible to achieve; that the mission therefore advocated achievable goals as the first phase of a multi-phase project for the areas where intervention is needed and maintenance is feasible; and that its report sets out initial short and medium term goals;
  6. Further notes that the 2018 mission considered that, prior to defining corrective measures, a much clearer idea is required of how the conservation of the property will move forward with the augmented resources, and notably how the dangers arising from a lack of conservation and ongoing management will be addressed;
  7. Also welcomes the draft Conservation Plan, conceived as a practical Action Plan, which reflects the recommendations of the 2018 mission, strongly encourages the State Party to finalize and adopt the Conservation Plan, and notes furthermore the need for significant international financial support for the realization of conservation objectives, and the need to augment the professional pool of conservation experts available at the property;
  8. Further welcomes the significant progress made with the short-term goals outlined by the 2018 mission, with support from International Assistance, in particular the initial, non-invasive clearing of vegetation overgrowth at two of the principle sites, Nan Dowas and Pahn Kedira; the removal of superficial growth from retaining walls at Pahn Kedira and Paikapw; and limited progress with channel clearance to facilitate visitor access;
  9. Commends the financial support extended by the State Party of the United States of America towards conducting a LiDar (“light detection and ranging”) survey of the property and the islands of Temwen and supporting further work on short- and medium-terms goals;
  10. Recommends that the State Party prepare, as soon as possible, a dedicated capacity-building programme, as recommended by the 2018 mission and the Conservation Plan, to ensure local engagement and share benefits from the funding obtained so far;
  11. Notes moreover that funding has been extended by the State Party of Japan to create a Visitor Centre, and requests the State Party to submit revised plans addressing the recommendations of the ICOMOS Technical Review;
  12. Finally notes that the construction of a Visitor Centre is being planned in advance of the development of a Tourism Strategy; considers that such a strategy is needed urgently to identify which parts of the property can be accessible to visitors, as this is turn will impact the conservation programme, and urges the State Party to draft a Tourism Strategy as soon as possible and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  13. Also urges the State Party to ensure progress with the development of the Management plan and to regularly provide the World Heritage Centre with updated information on this work;
  14. Also encourages the State Party, when the Conservation Plan and supportive funding for the initial survey and conservation work are in place, begin to implement the actions outlined in the Conservation Plan and integrate them into large-scale phased recovery programmes, which in turn could facilitate the development of corrective measures and a DSOCR, to be adopted by the Committee;
  15. Also requests the State Party to provide, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, detailed information on any proposed and on-going projects, in particular those related to infrastructure development, and to include Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) carried out according to the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage properties, for review by the Advisory Bodies, prior to the approval and/or implementation of any project;
  16. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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;
  17. Decides to retain Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Micronesia (Federated States of)) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 43 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/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: