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World Heritage
POLICY COMPENDIUM

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3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Paragraph 119

“World Heritage properties may support a variety of ongoing and proposed uses that are ecologically and culturally sustainable and which may contribute to the quality of life of communities concerned. The State Party and its partners must ensure that such sustainable use or any other change does not impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. For some properties, human use would not be appropriate. Legislations, policies and strategies affecting World Heritage properties should ensure the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value, support the wider conservation of natural and cultural heritage, and promote and encourage the active participation of the communities and stakeholders concerned with the property as necessary conditions to its sustainable protection, conservation, management and presentation.”

Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
Source:  OG Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (WHC.17/01 - 12 July 2017)
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

46. "[The World Heritage Committee] requests States Parties to develop Visitor Management Plans that assess appropriate carrying capacity of properties for visitors and address the issue of unregulated tourism."

Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
Decision:  42COM 7
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

10. "[The World Heritage Committee] Acknowledging the contribution of sustainable tourism to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the positive impact it can have on local communities and the protection of World Heritage properties, nevertheless notes with concern that the number of properties negatively affected by overcrowding, congestion and tourism infrastructure development continues to increase;

11. Noting that the protection of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) must be a central objective for all World Heritage properties, requests States Parties to develop visitor management plans and strategies that address the seasonality of tourism (smoothing visitor numbers over time and spreading visitors across sites), encourage longer more in-depth experiences promoting tourism products and services that reflect natural and cultural values, and limit access and activities to improve visitor flows and experiences, while reducing pressures on the attributes which underpin OUV."
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
Decision:  43COM 7.3

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee requests States Parties to assess the impacts of grazing, hunting and other human traditional activities on the biodiversity in the traditional use zone and develop a policy for the sustainable use of the natural resources in the traditional use zones in the property in close cooperation with the indigenous communities using these areas (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
See for examples Decisions:  32COM 7B.41 36COM 7B.25 40COM 7B.79 40COM 7B.88
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee encourages States Parties to take into account the traditional uses of local communities and to support the livelihoods of local communities through initiatives related to environmentally and culturally compatible options in order to prevent any threats from human activity to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and to promote the sustainable exploitation of resources and sustainable livelihoods (based on case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
See for examples Decisions:  38COM 7B.61 39COM 7B.52 39COM 7B.61 39COM 7B.66 40COM 7A.37 40COM 7B.64 40COM 7B.86 41COM 7A.19 41COM 7B.19 41COM 7B.29 41COM 7B.35 41COM 7B.79
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee recommends States Parties to consider measures in order to address ways to respect the cultural and spiritual values and practices, and sustain the spiritual associations at World Heritage properties (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
See for examples Decisions:  38COM 7B.53 40COM 7B.89 41COM 7B.96
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee recommends States Parties to pay special attention to the living religious heritage at properties, and to adopt efficient regulatory and management instruments to allow for religious uses at concerned properties (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
See for examples Decisions:  38COM 7A.1 38COM 7B.32 39COM 7A.24 41COM 7A.32
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

For the impact of tourism, the World Heritage Committee encourages States Parties, prior to any development of tourism facilities (resort development, ski facilities, golf resorts, etc.) that its potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) has been thoroughly assessed and to develop and implement a clear tourism strategy (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.8 - Social/cultural uses of heritage
See for examples Decisions:  31COM 7B.29 37COM 7B.28 40COM 7B.74 41COM 7B.32
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation Indigenous hunting, gathering and collecting Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses Society's valuing of heritage

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.9 - Other human activities

6. "Reiterating its utmost concern about the continued impacts on World Heritage properties due to the rising pressure from poaching, particularly of elephant, rhinoceros, and valuable timber species, linked to a growing illicit trade, and the increasing involvement of organized crime in this lucrative business, [the World Heritage Committee] reiterates its request to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to strengthen their cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to assist States Parties to implement the measures taken by the 16th Conference of the Parties of the CITES (…), and urges States Parties to ensure strong international collaboration and coordination to control the illicit trade in flora and fauna and their products."
Theme:  3.5.9 - Other human activities
Decision:  38COM 7
Threats:  Civil unrest Deliberate destruction of heritage Illegal activities Military training Terrorism War

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.9 - Other human activities

20. "[The World Heritage Committee] expresses its utmost concern about the impacts of conflicts causing an escalation of the already severe poaching crisis in central Africa, as armed groups are financing their activities through illegal wildlife trade, which is having a severe impact on wildlife populations, thereby degrading the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of natural World Heritage properties;"

Theme:  3.5.9 - Other human activities
Decision:  42COM 7
Threats:  Civil unrest Deliberate destruction of heritage Illegal activities Military training Terrorism War

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.9 - Other human activities

9. "[The World Heritage Committee] Reiterates its utmost concern about the continuing threats of wildlife poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife products linked to impacts of conflict and organized crime, which is eroding the biodiversity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of many World Heritage sites across the world, and urges States Parties to take the necessary measures to curb this problem, including through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);"
Theme:  3.5.9 - Other human activities
Decision:  43COM 7.2

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.9 - Other human activities

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee requests States Parties to take all measures possible to halt poaching in the property (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.9 - Other human activities
See for examples Decisions:  33COM 7B.11 38COM 7A.45 40COM 7A.37
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Civil unrest Deliberate destruction of heritage Illegal activities Military training Terrorism War

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.9 - Other human activities

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee requests States Parties to promote traditional land management practices [and] reiterates its appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in the fight against the illicit trade in wildlife and its products, including through the implementation of the CITES, and with the full engagement of transit and destination countries (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.9 - Other human activities
See for examples Decisions:  32COM 7B.41 35COM 7B.9 38COM 7B.14 40COM 7B.86
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Civil unrest Deliberate destruction of heritage Illegal activities Military training Terrorism War

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

Conclusions. “The following are [the] key principles:

i. in addressing the impacts of climate change on the outstanding universal value, integrity and authenticity of World Heritage properties, the World Heritage community will work in cooperation with other partners that also have responsibility, resources and expertise related to this challenge.

ii. The World Heritage Committee will be an advocate for relevant climate change research, and work to influence and support partners that are mandated and resourced to carry out such research.

iii. World Heritage properties will be used wherever appropriate and possible as a means to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change upon World Heritage to act as a catalyst in the international debate and obtain support for policies to mitigate climate change, and to communicate best practices in vulnerability assessments, adaptation strategies, mitigation opportunities, and pilot projects.

iv. Climate change will be considered in all aspects of nominating, managing, monitoring and reporting on the status of these properties.

v. In considering the threat posed by climate change to the OUV, authenticity and/or integrity of a World Heritage property, the World Heritage Committee will use the existing tools and processes”.

Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
Source:  WHC-07/16.GA/10 Policy document on the impact of Climate Change on World Heritage properties
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

11. “The potential impacts of Climate Change range from physical, to social and cultural aspects. (…). Experience and lessons learned on addressing Climate Change impacts stress the need for using a number of management responses at national and local levels. The World Heritage Convention provides an opportunity to develop strategies to implement relevant actions in respect of cultural and natural heritage properties threatened by Climate Change. Given the complexity of this issue, States Parties may request guidance from the World Heritage Committee to implement appropriate management responses to face the threats posed by Climate Change on their natural and cultural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List”.

13. “Conservation is the management of change, and Climate Change is one of the most significant global challenges facing society and the environment today. The actions that need to be taken to safeguard heritage are threefold:

  • Preventive actions: monitoring, reporting and mitigation of Climate Change effects through environmentally sound choices and decisions at a range of levels: individual, community, institutional and corporate.

  • Corrective actions: adaptation to the reality of Climate Change through global and regional strategies and local management plans.

  • Sharing knowledge: including best practices, research, communication, public and political support, education and training, capacity building, networking, etc.”

15. “It is noteworthy that there are strong links between natural and cultural heritage and the Climate Change issue could be used as an opportunity for the two parts of the Convention to be brought closer together”.

16. “(…) Climate Change is one risk among a number of challenges facing World Heritage sites. This threat should be considered in the broader context of the conservation of these sites”.

Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
Source:  A Strategy to Assist States Parties to Implement Appropriate Management Responses
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

5. "[The World Heritage Committee] notes that the impacts of climate change are affecting many and are likely to affect many more World Heritage properties, both natural and cultural in the years to come;

6. Encourages all States Parties to seriously consider the potential impacts of climate change within their management planning, in particular with monitoring, and risk preparedness strategies, and to take early action in response to these potential impacts;

10. Strongly encourages States Parties and the Advisory Bodies to use the network of World Heritage properties to highlight the threats posed by climate change to natural and cultural heritage, start identifying the properties under most serious threats, and also use the network to demonstrate management actions that need to be taken to meet such threats, both within the properties and in their wider context;

11. Also encourages UNESCO to do its utmost to ensure that the results about climate change affecting World Heritage properties reach the public at large, in order to mobilize political support for activities against climate change and to safeguard in this way the livelihood of the poorest people of our planet."

Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
Decision:  29COM 7B.a
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

24. "[The World Heritage Committee] also recalls the need for all States Parties to continue, and where necessary to strengthen all efforts to build resilience of World Heritage properties to Climate Change, including by further reducing to the greatest extent possible all other pressures and threats, and by developing and implementing climate adaptation strategies for properties at risk of Climate Change impacts."
Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
Decision:  41COM 7
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

30. “[The World Heritage Committee] notes with concern increasing vandalism at World Heritage properties and encourages States Parties to improve monitoring and security measures as well as awareness raising on the detrimental effects of vandalism, and to consider introducing creative solutions to allow visitors to express themselves without leaving permanent marks or damage."
Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
Decision:  41COM 7
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

At site-level, the World Heritage Committee recommends to monitor the impacts of global climate change and to develop adaptive management strategies and mitigation and adaptation measures to ensure the long-term protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties in response to climate and other environmental change (based on Case law further to decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.10 - Climate change and severe weather events
See for examples Decisions:  33COM 7B.7 33COM 7B.11 33COM 7B.23 34COM 7B.14 35COM 7B.22 36COM 7B.4 37COM 7B.14 38COM 7A.29
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Changes to oceanic waters Desertification Drought Flooding Other climate change impacts Storms Temperature change

3 - Policies Regarding CONSERVATION of World Heritage Properties

3.5 - Factors affecting properties

3.5.11 - Sudden ecological or geological events

Synthesis based on relevant Committee decisions

The World Heritage Committee encourages the assessment of the impacts and the damage caused after a sudden ecological or geological event, and the planning and implementation of the necessary remedial measures, including with a view to strengthening the overall resilience of the properties, to identify mechanisms for adaptive conservation and to improve risk preparedness, together with prevention and monitoring strategies and disaster response plans (based on Case law on decisions on the State of Conservation).
Theme:  3.5.11 - Sudden ecological or geological events
See for examples Decisions:  31COM 7B.8 31COM 7B.45 32COM 7B.44 34COM 7A.16 34COM 7B.11 34COM 7B.42 35COM 7B.32 36COM 7C 37COM 7B.3 37COM 7B.20 37COM 7B.37 40COM 7B.11
Case law:  Yes
Threats:  Avalanche/ landslide Earthquake Erosion and siltation/ deposition Fire (widlfires) Tsunami/tidal wave Volcanic eruption
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22
Case laws
38
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2
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