The State Party submitted its state of conservation report on the property to the World Heritage Centre on 7 January 2008. A joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission duly visited Arequipa from 28 April to 1 May 2008. Its report covered the two main concerns raised in 31 COM 7B.123 as well as identifying a number of other serious issues, and made several recommendations for immediate action.
a) Disaster Preparedness Plan
The World Heritage Committee has urged the responsible authorities since its 27th session in 2003 to incorporate a Disaster Preparedness Plan into the Master Plan in view of the frequent seismic activities in the region. The State Party’s report noted that the Plan was nearing completion but had not been finalized due to recent changes in the Provincial Municipality of Arequipa. The Plan remains incomplete and therefore has not been transmitted to the Committee. The 2008 Mission recommended the establishment of an interdisciplinary working group made up of representatives of the relevant authorities at local and regional levels in order to finalize the Risk Prevention Plan. The Mission called for the completed Plan to be presented officially to the World Heritage Committee by January 2009.
b) Reporting Requirements
The details of the proposed projects affecting the historic buildings were not received by 1 October 2007 as requested by the World Heritage Committee. The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS remain concerned that only basic information has been provided in relation to architectural interventions on significant buildings in the inscribed property, which is not in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.
c) Illegal Building Demolition in the Historic Zone
A decline in the number of total demolitions of buildings at the site was noted in 2007 but nevertheless several significant ‘protected’ buildings were affected by major remodelling involving substantial destruction. The 2008 Mission reports that there seems to be technical and juridical obstacles preventing such demolition activity. It recommends that an analysis of specific cases be carried out and presented to the World Heritage Committee to show the level of effectiveness of the municipal administration’s processes.
d) Preparation of Inventory
The 2008 Mission views the expansion and completion of the inventory of surviving historic buildings as essential in supporting their declaration as ‘monuments’ or as ‘protected zones’ and in justifying their contribution to the site’s outstanding universal value. This should be finalized as a matter of urgency, at least in reference to the zone of maximum protection. The inventory provides a basis for revising the boundaries of the protected area and takes into account the need to avert commerce and related services dominating the Historic Centre at the expense of the area’s residents and urban heritage. This is particularly important in the southern and eastern areas of the Historic Centre, around the San Camilo Market, where the impact of commercial activities has been particularly destructive. If these areas of the World Heritage property continue to lose their integrity, the site will be at risk of being placed on the World Heritage in Danger List.
e) Restoration and Reconstruction Techniques and Materials, including Training
The Mission concluded that increased funding was needed for the types of actions taken in revitalizing the ‘Tambos’ in order to present examples of best conservation practice which will be a decisive factor in achieving the sustainability of the Historic Centre. Training of specialists in heritage conservation and restoration is essential and should be undertaken at all educational levels ranging from short courses, university degrees in engineering and architecture and postgraduate qualifications. Archaeology training is also necessary, given the site’s long pre-colonial history.
f) Planning and management system
The Mission argued that existing plans including the master plan should be revised in order to introduce and give priority to the protection of the outstanding universal value of the property. The report also highlighted the need for achieving improved articulation between national, regional and local institutions. It recommended that a World Heritage working group be established with representatives from the relevant institutions. The proposed working group would be responsible for producing the State of conservation report for Arequipa in January 2009. The process of creating a new management structure for the Historic Centre, which had been given as the reason for the incompletion of the Risk Preparedness Plan in previous years, should not provide an obstacle in improving the protection of the property. The Mission suggested that a document focused on the composition, functioning and distribution of competencies be presented to the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.
g) Outstanding universal value
The 2008 Mission considered whether the values for which the property was inscribed on the World Heritage List are being maintained. It has recommended that a new Statement of outstanding universal value be drawn up justifying the inscription of the property and, at the same time, re-evaluating and strengthening the connection between the city and the surrounding countryside. As part of the preparation of this new statement, a map should be drawn up showing the possible extension of the buffer zone boundaries to cover the adjacent tracts of countryside. Such an extension would provide the territorial basis for an adequate regulatory framework to protect the agricultural terraces. The result of this work should be sent to ICOMOS for evaluation and presentation to the World Heritage Committee for final approval of a buffer zone change.
h) Community participation
The Mission recommended seeking the technical assistance from the World Heritage Fund in order to develop a programme of community participation based on the progress made in Los Tambos.
i) Pollution and traffic congestion
The Mission observed serious traffic congestion in the Historic Centre and recommended that studies be undertaken into the impact of the new public transport project (EMBARK 2008), especially in relation to the increased levels of taxi and private car usage, and to the car parking problem in the Historic Centre.