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World Heritage Convention

Decision 31 COM 7.1
Issues relative to the state of conservation of world heritage properties : the impacts of climate change on world heritage properties

The World Heritage Committee,
  1.  Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7.1,
  2.  Recalling Decision 30 COM 7.1 adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),
  3.  Thanks the Government of the Netherlands for having funded the development of the policy document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties, including a meeting of the Working Group of Experts, (5 - 6 February 2007 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris), and also thanks the experts and representatives of organizations who contributed to the meeting;
  4.  Endorses the "Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties" as described in Document WHC-07/31.COM/7.1, and decides to authorize the Chairperson of the Committee to vet the Policy Document, incorporating views expressed at the 31st session, and, as appropriate, to consult Committee members by email and other means;
  5.  Decides to transmit the revised Policy Document for discussion and adoption at the 16th General Assembly of States Parties in 2007;
  6.  Recommends that the Policy Document be read in conjunction with the report on "Predicting and managing the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage" and the "Strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses" - endorsed by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) - together with other relevant conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification, and other UNESCO initiatives, and further thanks the Government of Spain for supporting their publication as World Heritage Paper No. 22;
  7. Urges the World Heritage community to integrate actions pertaining to climate change in risk preparedness policies and action plans, making use thereby of the Policy Document and the Strategy for Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties, so as to protect their outstanding universal value, authenticity and/or integrity.
  8.  Also urges States Parties to participate in the United Nations Climate Change conferences with a view to achieving a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement, and to fund and support the research needs as identified in Annex 1 of the Policy Document;
  9.   Encourages the World Heritage Centre to sensitize States Parties, as appropriate, to the need to establish inter-disciplinary mechanisms to deal with policy and governance issues relating to the effect of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  10.   Recommends that the World Heritage Centre strengthen its relations with all organizations working on climate change, particularly with the UNFCCC and IPCC secretariats, and specifically with regard to the effect of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  11.  Welcomes the excellent publication on "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage" and thanks the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Government of the United Kingdom for having supported its production;
  12.   Encourages UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely the Policy Document, and other related publications through appropriate means to the World Heritage community and the broader public, and promote their application;
  13.   Adopts the specific research priorities indicated in the Policy Document and recommends to the UNESCO Forum - Universities and Heritage to prioritize these subjects and to open discussions on the effects of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  14.   Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop in consultation with States Parties criteria for the inclusion of those properties which are most threatened by climate change on the List of World Heritage in Danger, for use in prioritizing vulnerability assessment, mitigation and adaptation activities;
  15.  Decides, for future sessions of the World Heritage Committee, to add to the working document on State of Conservation reporting, a section on those properties most affected by climate change;
  16.  Commends the Government of New Zealand for making the 31st session "carbon neutral" and adopts a carbon neutral policy for all future sessions, to the extent feasible.
Decision Code
31 COM 7.1
Decisions adopted at the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee (Christchurch, 2007)
Context of Decision