By its decision 30 COM 7.1 the World Heritage Committee endorsed the "Strategy to assist States Parties to implement management responses" and took note of the report on "Predicting and managing the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage", which were prepared following a meeting of experts in March 2006.
The Committee also requested that a policy document be prepared on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties, in consultation with various stakeholders. Because the subject has already been discussed in detail in the aforementioned Strategy and Report, it was decided that the draft policy paper should focus mainly on addressing the issues listed under (a) to (e) of paragraph 13 of decision 30 COM 7.1.
In order to help in the development of the policy paper and to guide discussion during the Working Group Meeting, a background document was prepared. The World Heritage Centre helped draft the section on synergies with other international conventions and organizations. The future research needs section of the background document was prepared by the Advisory Bodies, along with input from the University of College London Centre (UCL) Centre for Sustainable Heritage. The section on legal questions and alternative mechanisms, other than the List of World Heritage in Danger, to address concerns of international implication, such as climatic change, was prepared by the IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP), in Bonn, Germany. All States Parties to the Convention were requested to send their contributions, covering the above-mentioned points, for the development of the policy paper. Specific contributions made by the States Parties were integrated in the relevant parts of the background document. In addition, case studies related to climate change and World Heritage were submitted by some delegations.
On 05-06 February 2007, approximately 40 individuals, representing experts from different regions, United Nations Conventions, UNESCO Sectors, the World Heritage Centre and its Advisory Bodies, convened at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France to develop the draft policy paper on impacts of climate change on World Heritage Properties.
Day 1 of the Working Group Meeting was split into four sessions. During Session 1, Mr Francesco Bandarin, Director WHC, welcomed all the participants. Mr Kishore Rao, Deputy Director WHC, briefed the participants on the World Heritage Committee Decision 30COM 7.1, the background document, and the expected outputs of the Working Group Meeting.
To open Session 2 on Synergies, the plenary heard presentations by various Conventions on possible synergies with the World Heritage Convention concerning climate change. Presentations were made by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). There was then an open discussion on synergies. For Session 3 on Future Research Needs, presentations were given by Mr Bastian Bomhard of IUCN, Prof May Cassar of UCL, and Dr Thomas Schaaf of the UNESCO Global Change and Mountain Regions (GLOCHAMORE) Project, prior to an open discussion on the subject. Dr Ben Boer of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme gave a presentation on Legal Questions and Alternative Mechanisms, for Session 4, followed by an open discussion.
In the morning of Day 2, the group of experts was split into three drafting groups (Synergies, Future Research Needs, Legal Issues and Alternative Mechanisms), in order to commence drafting of the policy document, based upon discussions from Day 1. In the afternoon of Day 2, reports by the drafting groups were presented to the plenary and the overall draft policy document to be presented to the World Heritage Committee was discussed.
Currently, the draft policy document is being finalized. It will be circulated to a larger group of relevant climate change experts, practitioners of heritage conservation and management, and appropriate international organizations and civil society, for further commentary. A draft of the document will be presented to the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand, to be later discussed at the General Assembly of States Parties in October 2007.
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1,
2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.a adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),
3. Also recalling the submission in 2005 of four petitions by civil society and non-governmental organizations on the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage properties, complemented by an additional petition in February 2006,
4. Further recalling paragraph 44 of the Operational Guidelines,
5. Thanks the Government of the United Kingdom for having funded the meeting of experts, which took place on the 16th and 17th of March 2006 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and also thanks the United Nations Foundation for its support, as well as all the experts who contributed to the meeting;
6. Endorses the "Strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses" described in Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1, and requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre to lead the implementation of the "Global level actions" described in the Strategy through extrabudgetary funding and also takes note of the report on "Predicting and managing the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage";
7. Encourages UNESCO, including the World Heritage Centre, and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely this strategy, the report, and any other related publications through appropriate means to the World Heritage community and the broader public;
8. Requests States Parties and all partners concerned to implement this strategy to protect the Outstanding Universal Value, integrity and authenticity of World Heritage sites from the adverse effects of Climate Change, to the extent possible and within the available resources, recognizing that there are other international instruments for coordinating the response to this challenge;
9. Invites States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to build on existing Conventions and programmes listed in Annex 4 of Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.1, in accordance with their mandates and as appropriate, in their implementation of Climate Change related activities;
10. Also requests States Parties, the World Heritage Centre, and the Advisory Bodies to seek ways to integrate, to the extent possible and within the available resources, this strategy into all the relevant processes of the World Heritage Convention including: nominations, reactive monitoring, periodic reporting, international assistance, capacity building, other training programmes, as well as with the "Strategy for reducing risks from disasters at World Heritage properties" (WHC-06/30.COM/7.2);
11. Strongly encourages the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in collaboration with States Parties and other relevant partners to develop proposals for the implementation of pilot projects at specific World Heritage properties especially in developing countries, with a balance between natural and cultural properties as well as appropriate regional proposals, with the objective of developing best practices for implementing this Strategy including preventive actions, corrective actions and sharing knowledge, and recommends to the international donor community to support the implementation of such pilot projects;
12. Further requests the States Parties and the World Heritage Centre to work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with the objective of including a specific chapter on World Heritage in future IPCC assessment reports;
13. Requests the World Heritage Centre to prepare a policy document on the impacts of climate change on World Heritage properties involving consultations with relevant climate change experts and practitioners of heritage conservation and management, appropriate international organizations and civil society, to be discussed at the General Assembly of States Parties in 2007. A draft of the document should be presented to the 31st session in 2007 for comments.
This draft should include considerations on:
a) Synergies between conventions on this issue,
b) Identification of future research needs in this area,
c) Legal questions on the role of the World Heritage Convention with regard to suitable responses to Climate Change,
d) Linkages to other UN and international bodies dealing with the issues of climate change,
e) Alternative mechanisms, other than the List of World Heritage in Danger, to address concerns of international implication, such as climatic change ;
14. Considers that the decisions to include properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of threats resulting from climate change are to be made by the World Heritage Committee, on a case-by-case basis, in consultation and cooperation with States Parties, taking into account the input from Advisory Bodies and NGOs, and consistent with the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.Read more about the decision