Lake Baikal (Russian Federation)
VIII.89 The Committee noted that the State Party had invited a UNESCO-IUCN mission to this site following the recommendation of the twenty-fourth session of the Committee. The mission took place from 25 August to 3 September 2001. IUCN and the Director of the UNESCOMoscow Office, representing the World Heritage Centre, conducted the mission. The Committee was informed that the full report of this mission was presented to the twentyfifth extraordinary session of the Bureau and that it noted in particular the series of recurrent problems and new potential threats that, according to IUCN, would seriously threaten the integrity of this site.
VIII.90 The Committee noted the Bureau's concern about a number of new potential threats to the integrity of this site including a project to develop a gas and oil pipeline to China, which was confirmed, and that the Government of the Republic of Buryatia had granted a license to Buryat Gas Company. The Committee was also informed that a number of Bureau members noted that no indication was received from the State Party concerning the inclusion of the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger and that a number of consultation meetings on this matter were held between the Delegation of the Russian Federation, IUCN, the Director of the UNESCO Moscow office and staff members of the Centre. In conclusion, the need was recognized to consult and comment on the results of the mission to Lake Baikal.
VIII.91 The Delegate of the Russian Federation informed the Committee that his Government would like to review the full report of the mission in detail and that the authorities would be prepared to present a reply by 1 February 2002. He thanked the members of the mission and in particular the Director of the UNESCO Moscow Office for his support and co-operation to find a solution.
VIII.92 The Committee noted that little substantial progress has been achieved towards enhancing the protection of Lake Baikal, and addressing issues repeatedly raised by the Committee, and that there are new emerging threats that pose unprecedented risks to the integrity of this site. The Committee furthermore noted that international support is needed to enhance the capacity of the State Party to deal with the complex issues related to the conservation of this site.
VIII.93 The Committee furthermore noted the following as key milestones in assessing future progress:
(1) Development and enforcement of all related regulations and by-laws required for the Federal Baikal Law to become fully operational. These regulations and by-laws should be developed through a participatory and transparent process involving local people and all key stakeholders dealing with the protection and management of this site.
(2) Development and implementation of an integrated management plan for the whole Baikal region, with emphasis on the protection of the World Heritage site. Priority should be given to develop an adequate ecological zoning of this site to enforce the Federal Baikal Law. This plan needs to include a comprehensive monitoring system on the state of Lake Baikal. Adequate human and financial resources are required to ensure its long-term implementation.
(3) Development and implementation of adequate institutional and co-ordination mechanisms for implementing the Federal Baikal Law, its regulations and by-laws. This could take the form of a renewed Baikal Commission or a similar institutional arrangement that would enhance co-ordination between federal and regional authorities while involving also NGOs, scientific institutions and other stakeholders.
(4) Development and implementation of a comprehensive programme to adequately address the pollution problems affecting this site, giving particular priority to the case of BPPM, but also including other sources of pollution that are affecting the integrity of this site.
(5) Detailed consideration of various scenarios for the Baikalsk Pulp and Paper Mill, including total phasing out of the Mill. This requires a long-term strategy and must be associated with the development of alternative livelihoods for local people as the BPPM is the main source of employment in the region.
VIII.94 Finally, the Committee requested that the State Party provides an urgent response by 1 February 2002 in relation to these issues, particularly on the development of a gas and oil pipeline to China, and the potential impacts of this project on the integrity of this site, as well as the proposed oil and gas exploration in the Selenga Delta. The Committee furthermore requested the World Heritage Centre to undertake all possible efforts to encourage the World Bank, GEF, UNF, and other relevant international donors to provide urgent support, in the form of soft loans, grants and projects, to enhance the State Party efforts to address the complex conservation and development issues facing Lake Baikal.