1.         Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia) (N 1013)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2000

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

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/1013/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1013/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1013/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

In June 2008, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN were informed that the State Government of Sarawak may have planned some hydropower projects (2008-2020) in the rainforests of Borneo in Malaysia. The issues of concern include the development of dams that could flood a portion of the property, and the marginalisation of indigenous communities and their land rights within and adjacent to the property. The information was brought to the attention of IUCN and the World Heritage Centre by NGOs, IUCN’s network of experts, and online media sources. On 25 June 2008, the Director of the World Heritage Centre requested the Malaysian authorities to clarify the situation and provide further information. No response has been received from the State Party at the time of drafting this report.


a) Dam development

NGOs provided reports in June 2008 of hydro-power development in Sarawak that would flood areas of rainforest including areas within the property which would also affect the traditional lands of indigenous people. Media reports from “The Star” newspaper, dated 24 July 2008, stated that construction of the Tuoh dam could flood the Gunung Mulu World Heritage Site. The reports also stated that the State Government of Sarawak was not required to undergo Federal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and therefore no public consultation would take place.


b) Indigenous community marginalisation

The World Heritage Committee, at its 25th (Helsinki, 2001) and 26th (Budapest, 2002) sessions recommended that the State Party give due consideration to the involvement of indigenous peoples and other local communities in planning and implementing decisions regarding the extension of the property, and to seek their full co-operation in its management.

Reports received by IUCN in May 2008, indicate conflict between indigenous Berawan people and both management of the property and tourism developers. Examples of this conflict include lack of compensation for traditional land rights obtained for construction and expansion of hotel development e.g. the Royal Mulu Resort, on land which has traditionally belonged to the Berawan people. Apparently little progress has been made in dispute resolution and there has been no government investigation of the claims of the indigenous peoples to compensation or efforts to stop tourism development in lands adjacent to the property. Reports received also claim that participation as tourist guides and other aspects of sharing in the benefits of tourism and World Heritage designation are not available to the indigenous groups. If these reports were confirmed, this lack of engagement of local communities could threaten the effectiveness of management and impact the integrity of the property.


In line with the World Heritage Strategic Objectives, and in particular to ‘Enhance the role of communities in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention’ (Decision 31 COM 13B) and Paragraph 117 of the Operational Guidelines, ‘States Parties should [implement effective management] in close collaboration with property managers, the agency with management authority and other partners, and stakeholders in property management.’ Furthermore, as per Paragraph 119 of the Operational Guidelines on sustainable use within the property, these should be ‘ecologically and culturally sustainable.’ The World Heritage Centre and IUCN find the potential flooding of the property by dam development to represent a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value and integrity of the property. These activities would also threaten the local communities and sustainable use of the property going against the strategic objectives of the Convention and the maintenance of its integrity.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN encourage the State Party to respond to these concerns and clarify the status of these dams and projects.


Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.16

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-09/33.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 26 COM 21B.15, adopted at its 26th session (Budapest, 2002),

3. Takes note of the reports of on-going conflict of land rights within and adjacent to the property which, if not urgently resolved, could threaten the effectiveness in managing the property and impact its integrity;

4. Requests the State Party to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on the above allegations concerning unresolved claims of traditional land use as well as on ways in which the State Party and the management authority of the property have been engaging with community leaders to effectively resolve conflicts surrounding land rights and benefit sharing from tourism;

5. Also requests the State Party, in line with the provisions under Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to provide information on development of dams in the region surrounding the property and to carry out an assessment of potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2010, a progress report on the above issues, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.