1.         Vilnius Historic Centre (Lithuania) (C 541bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1994

Criteria  (ii)(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/541/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1995-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 138,180
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/541/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: Within the framework of the Revitalization Strategy for Vilnius, UNDP – SPPD provided USD 64,000 

Previous monitoring missions

1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000: World Heritage Centre project missions; May 2005: World Heritage Centre site visit; December 2006: on-site regional seminar 

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/541/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2009

The World Heritage Committee, at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), while noting the State Party’s efforts for the development of a Master/General Plan for the City of Vilnius; regretted that an integrated management plan for the property requested at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) had not been produced, and reiterated its request that this integrated management plan be developed “to govern and co-ordinate all decisions affecting the Old Town development and conservation, through participatory consultation processes”. The World Heritage Committee’s Decision also requested that the State Party provide the “new Regulation on the Protection of the Vilnius Old Town, as well as the Master/General Plan and updated documentation on the development of high-rise buildings in the buffer zone for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies”.

The State Party provided a report on 2 February 2009 which describes efforts undertaken in the last year to respond to the World Heritage Committee’s request to develop an “integrated management plan” through development of an overall set of guidelines to develop mechanisms for improved co-ordination and integrated management of World Heritage properties in Lithuania, and an accompanying document for improving co-ordination and integrated management of the Vilnius Old Town World Heritage property. The report does not, however, contain the text of the Regulation on the Protection of the Vilnius Old Town, the Master/General Plan approved in 2007, nor updated documentation on the development of high-rise buildings in the buffer zone as requested in Decision 32 COM 7B.99.

a) Development of the integrated management systems for World Heritage Sites in Lithuania

The State Party has organized a working group under the authority of the Prime Minister, to draft guidelines for the development of integrated management systems for all World Heritage sites in Lithuania. The guidelines entitled Principles of the Coordination and integration mechanism for the World Heritage sites in Lithuania, are now waiting to be approved by the government. The purpose of the guidelines are to define the roles of government institutions, civil society, and individuals which are involved in management of World Heritage sites in Lithuania.

The draft guidelines were submitted as an annex to the report of the State Party. These guidelines include the following steps:

- Understanding the existing management system in place,

- Ensuring integrated management with attention to four main ares: territorial integration of management; horizontal, inter-institutional, and multidisciplinary interaction; vertical coherence of management; and coherence between state institutions and local government and civil society,

- Developing “Statements of Significance” to understand the values, integrity, and authenticity of the site

- Developing day-to-day management tools such as regular monitoring, risk preparedness, capaicty building, information and awareness activities, and determining necessary resources for those insitutions participating in the site mangement.

The guildelines set up a commission for each site made up of the main responsible government authority at each property and other institutuions who have involvement in some way in the management of the site, complemented by NGOs and civil society organizations. This commission is meant to meet at least once every three months to discuss issues arising from the management of the property. This commission is charged with monitoring and reporting on actions undertaken for the management of the property as well as dicussing ways to mitigate impacts of potential threats. Finally an annual report is to be prepared to assess the effectiveness of activities undertaken, assess any changes that have occurred during the past year, and propose any necessary changes to improve the mangement system.

b) Development of the integrated management system for the Vilnius World Heritage property

Key information on how the guidelines are being applied in the Vilnius Historic Centre was provided in a document entitled: Coordination and integration mechanism of the management system of Vilnius Historic Centre – a World Heritage Site.

The document states that a, “Commission for Supervision of the Site Values and Coordination and Integration of Management of the Site” has been set up to oversee the management of the Vilnius World Heritage property. It also states that the commission has decided to respond to the needs of improving coordination and integration of the current management system by a continuously developing mechanism of collaboration instead of creating a one-off management plan.

The document provides basic information on the legal framework for planning in Vlinius and a framework for the territorial, vertical, and horizontial integration, without giving specifics of the institutions/organzations concerned. The document goes on to describe a number of the plans and strategies that have been developed in the last 15 years for Vilnius.

The document also describes the need for a better understanding of the significance of the site and proposes that an exercise be carried out in 2009 to create a more in-depth Statement of Significance.

Finally, the document outlines a workplan for 2009 which contains the three following activities: Elaboration of a the statement of significance, authenticity and integrity for Vilnius Old Town (to be completed by January 2010); Analysis of the current management system in Vilnius to evaluate its cohesion and its implications for the safeguarding the World Heritage site (no timeframe given); and Organization of the necessary institutional collaboration framework according to the Government-approved Guidelines for Coordination and Integration of the Management of the World Heritage properties in Lithuania (no timeframe given).

 

c) Other issues

 

As mentioned above, the requested texts of the “Regulation on the Protection of the Vilnius Old Town” and the updated documentation on the development of high-rise buildings in the buffer zone were not included in the State Party report. The State Party did report, however, that a broader bill concerning the protection of the UNESCO World Heritage in the Republic of Lithuania has been drafted and is currently in the process of being approved as per national procedures. No further details were provided about this new legislation.

 

Although regretting that the State Party has not submitted the requested information on the “Regulation on the Protection of the Vilnius Old Town” and the updated documentation on the development of high-rise buildings in the buffer zone, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies view the new guidelines as a positive first step to the provision of integrated management for the World Heritage properties of Lithuania, and in particular the Vilnius Old Town. While not constituting a management plan, the approach developed provides an ongoing means to monitor and adjust the complex local management system to ensure protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property. This approach is yet in the early stages of development but its principles and comprehensive approach to integration are highly commendable. Once tested, this approach may be a very useful model for management of other World Heritage cities.

 

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies would like to clarify, however, that rather than a “Statement of Significance” as mentioned in the report, the State Party should be working on a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value as currently defined in Paragraph 155 of the Operational Guidelines. This Statement of Outstanding Universal Value should be the basis for all of the conservation and management decisions taken at the property. Further, there is concern that while the State Party Guidelines for World Heritage properties in Lithuania promote the importance of citizens being given periodic opportunities to debate and redefine the particular heritage values, it is important to understand that the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage property must be based on the values recognized at the time of inscription, including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, and can not be adjusted after inscription without the approval by the World Heritage Committee.

 

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies further point out that while the framework established by the State Party is a very positive first step, there is a need for the commission to begin its regularly scheduled meetings every three months, as described in the guidelines. The new commission would also need to establish a set of clear, conservation-based objectives and procedures, as well as a decision-making process which emphasizes the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Work on the development of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value and the additional analysis and evaluation of the existing management system are also necessary on a priority basis, in order to give the newly established commission the necessary information for discussion and decision-making. Finally the relation between the deliberations and decisions of the commission and the various plans and strategies in force (as described in the report) needs to be established with the aim of reconciling the various planning instruments to ensure an integrated approach to the management of the site.

 

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 33 COM 7B.112

The World Heritage Committee,

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

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.99, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Regrets that the State Party did not provide the documentation on the "Regulation on the Protection of the Vilnius Old Town" and the updated documentation on the development of high-rise buildings in the buffer zone as requested by the Committee at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008);

4. Commends the State Party for the innovative quality of the guidelines proposed to improve coordination and integrated management of all World Heritage properties in Lithuania and the World Heritage City of Vilnius in particular, and encourages the State Party to continue to explore and develop this mechanism for full implementation;

5. Requests that the new commission for the property begin its regular work as soon as possible, with a clear set of conservation objectives and procedures, as well as a decision-making process which emphasizes the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6. Encourages the continued work on the development of the Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, based on the values recognized at the time of inscription, and the additional analysis and evaluation of the existing management system, and a proposal for reconciling the various planning instruments to ensure an integrated approach to the management of the property;

7. Reiterates it request for the State Party to submit the information requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session related to the legislation covering the property (including any new legislation), the planning instruments in force for the protection of the property, and the regulations concerning the construction of high buildings which may have an impact on the visual integrity;

8. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2011, a detailed report on the further development and implementation of the guidelines proposed to improve coordination and integrated management of World Heritage properties in Lithuania with particular reference to the Vilnius Old Town for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.