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Decision 17 COM IX.1-8
Examination of Methodological Aspects of Monitoring of the State of Conservation

IX.1 The Secretariat introduced the working document WHC-93/CONF.002/4 and recalled that the World Heritage Committee at its sixteenth session in Santa Fe requested the Centre to convene an expert meeting on the methodology of monitoring. The working document outlines the main conclusions of the expert meeting that was held at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, U.K., from 1 to 4 November 1993. The report of this meeting was made available to the Committee as information document WHC-93/CONF.2/INF.5.

IX.2 The Secretariat emphasized that this document is a progress report reflecting the present state of achievement in a long process of defining the concept of monitoring. In this context, it was noted that three types of monitoring could be distinguished:

Systematic monitoring: the continuous process of monitoring the conditions of World Heritage sites with periodic reporting on its state of conservation.

Administrative monitoring: follow up actions by the World Heritage Centre to ensure the implementation of recommendations and decisions of the World Heritage Committee and Bureau at the time of inscription or at a later date.

Ad hoc monitoring: the reporting by the Centre, other sectors of UNESCO and the advisory bodies to the Bureau and the Committee on the state of conservation of specific World Heritage sites that are under threat. Ad hoc reports and impact studies are necessary each time exceptional circumstances occur or work is undertaken which may have an affect on the state of conservation of the sites.

As regards systematic monitoring, the Secretariat emphasized that in the spirit of the Convention, it is the prime responsibility of the States Parties to put in place on-site monitoring arrangements as an integral component of day-to-day conservation and management of the sites. At the same time, however, it is considered essential that external and independent professional advisers are involved in a periodic reporting system. This reporting system should not only be addressed to site managers and national authorities, but should also lead to improved World Heritage assistance and decision-making. A regional or national approach is recommended for systematic monitoring so as to optimize its impact. For each of the national or regional programmes the most appropriate partners should be identified. The established monitoring framework should be reviewed and, if necessary, adapted to the particular conditions of the region.

IX.3 Several delegates commended the results of the expert meeting and noted that it had elevated the thinking on monitoring considerably. However, it was emphasized in the discussions that the involvement of the States Parties is essential in further developing the concept of monitoring. In this respect, the Delegate of Italy underlined the importance which must be given to the carrying out of impact studies and ad hoc reports each time exceptional circumstances occur. It was also noted that, a monitoring methodology should on the one hand be applicable to all sites and should therefore have scientific rigour, while on the other, it should be sufficiently flexible so as to respond to regional and national characteristics, available technical expertise and their economic and cultural conditions and identities.

IX.4 The Committee discussed the necessity to establish, at the time of inscription, comprehensive baseline information and that particular attention should be paid to the collection and management of data and documentation. The costs of implementing a baseline information collection should be estimated in advance, particularly for the developing countries. The Delegate of Colombia remarked that the establishment and operation of monitoring systems would require the development of comprehensive cooperation programmes. She therefore suggested that when developing a monitoring methodology, the cost estimate should take into consideration such programmes. Furthermore, the expert meetings should include participants from developing countries to help define feasible monitoring systems.

IX.5 Following the discussion, the Committee invited the States Parties to put on-site monitoring arrangements in place as an integral part of site conservation and management, and to report to the Committee on the actions taken to implement this.

IX.6 The Committee also endorsed the recommendations made by the Centre and asked it to form a small working group of experts from States Parties and the advisory bodies which would, on the basis of the observations made by the Committee, undertake the following actions:

  • establish guidelines for baseline information and its collection and management;
  • revise the nomination and evaluation procedures and process to secure baseline information at the time of inscription of sites on the World Heritage List;
  • establish a format for periodic reporting;
  • prepare a draft text on monitoring and its procedures for inclusion in the Operational Guidelines;
  • determine, jointly with ICCROM, ICOMOS, and IUCN, the need for training in monitoring;
  • estimate the costs to States Parties of the implementation of a systematic monitoring programme and look into possibilities of assistance to States Parties;
  • establish a small unit at the World Heritage Centre to oversee the implementation of a systematic monitoring and reporting system.

IX.7 The Committee invited the Centre to report to the Bureau at its eighteenth session on the results of the above activities so that the Committee could take concrete and precise decisions on this matter.

IX.8 The Secretary informed the Committee that parallel to the implementation of the above activities, regional monitoring activities would be promoted, such as the completion of the Latin American monitoring programme which should result in a regional state of conservation report in 1994. Furthermore, it is foreseen that regional seminars for site managers will also be held in 1994 in different regions. In this way, it is expected that the further development of the monitoring system will benefit directly from the practical implementation of monitoring programmes and will be firmly grounded in local and national experiences.

Decision Code
17 COM IX.1-8
Report of the Rapporteur
Context of Decision