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Decision 43 COM 7A.2
East Rennell (Solomon Islands) (N 854)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.41, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the efforts made by customary landowners, local communities and the State Party to protect the property, in particular by not allowing commercial logging and mining within the property;
  4. Regrets however that a logging concession has been granted up to 200 meters from the boundary of the property without assessing the impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and before an understanding of the ecological connectivity between East and West Rennell is available, requests the State Party to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this project, and urges the State Party to closely monitor the situation, ensure that the boundary of the World Heritage property is clearly demarcated on the ground, and extend the buffer zone as new scientific information becomes available;
  5. Notes that the letter submitted to the World Heritage Centre on behalf of the Tuhunui Tribe of East Rennell in May 2018, indicating their wish to withdraw its customary land from the World Heritage property, has been revoked, and also notes the competing claims of customary rights among tribes and individual households;
  6. Welcomes the State Party’s effort to initiate dialogue with customary landowners and local communities concerning the 2010 Protected Areas Act, but also regrets that little progress has been made with the implementation of the commitments made by the State Party at the 2017 Round Table, including the finalization of a Management Plan, which was recommended by the Committee at the time of inscription in 1998, and also urges the State Party to include those commitments in the work plan and budget of relevant ministries;
  7. Adopts the following corrective measures and also requests the State Party to implement them, as a matter of urgency, to strengthen the protection of the OUV and integrity of the property while enhancing livelihoods of local communities:

    a) Adopt a new Cabinet Paper, prepared by the three Chairs of the 2017 Round Table, reconfirming the 2016 Cabinet Paper, reaffirming all Round Table Ministerial commitments for East Rennell and directing all ministries to provide a concrete timeline and budget for their implementation,

    b) Ensure that the Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association (LTWHSA) can officially and immediately apply for National Protected Areas status for the World Heritage property in order to initiate the official consultation process by the Director of the Environment and Conservation Division, and to finalize the Management Plan (including zoning),

    c) Ensure that the World Heritage property is actively promoted, including on the website of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau and on all relevant maps and promotional leaflets, and immediately begin actively promoting appropriate tourism using existing accommodations and facilities; 

  8. Further requests the State Party to implement all other recommendations of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission, including:

    a) Clarify the consent provision of the 2010 Protected Areas Act, particularly what concerns the ‘interested parties’ who would need to be involved in the process,

    b) Provide the LTWHSA with the support needed to manage the World Heritage property to international standards,

    c) Improve access to the property for tourists and local communities and improve access to basic services and facilities, 

    d) Prioritize the development of sustainable livelihoods for the local communities, recognizing the important role played by women in East Rennell, including through a development plan, and seek technical and financial support from the international community for this effort,

    e) Ensure the Rennell-Bellona Constituency Development Fund reserves an allocation for East Rennell and its local communities,

    f) Develop a scientific research programme at Lake Tegano, seeking support from the international research community and also incorporating traditional ecological knowledge,

    g) Continue and expand the recently started bird monitoring program, and seek international support to mitigate the effects of invasive species, 

    h) Ensure that EIAs are carried out for all proposed developments within the property and its vicinity to guarantee that these do not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property, 

    i) Consider registering and surveying all lands under the Registration of Customary Lands Act, prioritizing the western shore of the lake, where most people live and where initial tourism lodges should be clustered,

    j) Record and map local culture, traditional and living knowledge, customary governance, genealogies and language of the East Rennell communities, 

    k) Consider assessing, in the 2020 state of conservation report, whether the current timeframe for implementing the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) is realistic;

  9. Notes with great satisfaction the substantial support that the States Parties of Australia and New Zealand provided to the Solomon Islands in an effort to prevent the Kangava Bay oil spill from reaching the property, and calls upon the ship owner and insurer of the MV Solomon Trader to cover all expenses of the ecological and socio-economical impacts;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  11. Decides to retain East Rennell (Solomon Islands) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Code
43 COM 7A.2
Themes
Conservation
States Parties 1
Properties 1
Year
2019
State of conservation reports
2019 East Rennell
Documents
WHC/19/43.COM/18
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision
WHC-19/43.COM/7A.Add
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