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Decision 44 COM 7.2
Conservation issues

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7, 41 COM 7, 42 COM 7, 43 COM 7.2 and 43 COM 7.3, adopted at its 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 42nd (Manama, 2018) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,

Emergency situations resulting from conflicts

  1. Deplores the loss of human life and the degradation of humanitarian conditions resulting from the prevailing conflict situations in several countries, and continues to express its utmost concern at the devastating damage sustained and the continuing threats facing cultural and natural heritage in regions of armed conflict;
  2. Urges again all parties associated with conflicts to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural and natural heritage, including their use for military purposes, and also urges States Parties to fulfil their obligations under international law by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, in particular the safeguarding of World Heritage properties and sites included in Tentative Lists;
  3. Reiterates its utmost concern about the continuing threats of wildlife poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife and timber products linked to impacts of armed conflict and organized crime, which is eroding the biodiversity and Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of many World Heritage properties around the world, and further 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);
  4. Also reiterates its utmost concern at the increase in illicit trafficking of cultural objects, resulting from armed conflicts, and appeals to all States Parties to cooperate in the fight against these threats, and for cultural heritage protection in general, including through the ratification of the 1970 Convention and the 1954 Convention and its two Protocols, as well as the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2199 (2015), 2253 (2015) and 2347 (2017);
  5. Reiterates its call upon the international community to further support the safeguarding of the cultural and natural heritage of countries affected by conflict, through earmarked funds or through contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;

Recovery and Reconstruction

  1. Welcomes the continued reflection on recovery and reconstruction and the broad dissemination of the Warsaw Recommendation in multiple languages as a basis for further reflections and also welcomes the dedicated webpage established by the World Heritage Centre;
  2. Expresses its gratitude to the Polish authorities for the organization of the webinar “The invincible city: Society in cultural heritage recovery” in October 2020 and to the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) for the “Conference on heritage reconstruction - its economic, social, and psychological aspects in the process of post-trauma recovery” (Bahrain, March 2021);
  3. Takes note of the various resources already published and in the process of publication;
  4. Noting the value of accurate pre-existing documentation in the recovery of built and other heritage following destruction, strongly encourages the States Parties and all other stakeholders of the Convention to stimulate the documentation of heritage structures, including through cutting-edge digital technologies, to create databases of documentation for future reference;

Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

  1. Notes with utmost concern the results of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which shows that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history and that no significant progress has been achieved on most of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and encourages the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to adopt an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), which can bring about the transformative change needed to halt the loss in biodiversity;
  2. Considers that the post-2020 GBF should provide a common framework for all Biodiversity-related Conventions and build on the strengths of each convention, and strongly encourages the Parties of CBD to take into account the recommendations of the expert meeting “Harnessing the power of World Heritage for a better future: World Heritage and the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework” in the post-2020 GBF to recognize and better integrate the contribution of the World Heritage Convention to global biodiversity conservation;
  3. Requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to continue to engage with the preparatory process of the post-2020 GBF, in order to advance consideration of the World Heritage Convention;
  4. Also requests the States Parties to ensure that there is effective liaison between the respective national focal points for the CBD and the World Heritage Convention, to ensure that considerations relevant for the Convention are integrated in the GBF, and that the contributions of natural and cultural World Heritage properties, sites on national Tentative Lists, and other internationally designated sites are fully integrated and supported within National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs);
  5. Further requests the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to report back at its 46th session, with recommended policies and actions to support the adopted post-2020 GBF be taken into account in the processes of the World Heritage Convention;
  6. Requests furthermore the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to consider how the relevance of these proposals for mixed, cultural landscapes and other relevant cultural World Heritage properties, including those cultural properties that overlap with Key Biodiversity Areas, might contribute to the anticipated Joint Programme of Work on the Links between Biological and Cultural Diversity to ensure further integration of nature and culture in the post-2020 GBF and to help achieve its vision of living in harmony with nature by 2050, and report to its 46th session on the approved Programme and how the World Heritage Convention can contribute to its implementation;
  7. Takes note of the need for additional funding to be provided to support the achievement of biodiversity goals within World Heritage properties, in order to address their contribution to the GBF, and invites the Conference of the Parties of the CBD, in accordance with its decision XIII/21, to take these resourcing needs into account in formulating strategic guidance for the eight replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund and other international finance mechanisms to support the GBF, considering all elements provided in Section II.C of Document WHC/21/44.COM/7;

Buffer zones

  1. Noting that a number of World Heritage properties lack formal buffer zones, in particular those on the List of World Heritage in Danger, reaffirms the increasing importance of effective buffer zones to support the protection and management of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and building greater resilience of properties to external threats,
  2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7.1 and the 2008 expert workshop on World Heritage and Buffer Zones with its specific recommendations to improve guidance, enhance capacity and refine the Operational Guidelines concerning buffer zones,
  3. Urges States Parties, with the support of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to:
    1. Incorporate well-designed buffer zones based on a holistic understanding of natural as well as human induced factors affecting the property, supported by reinforcing relevant legal, policy, awareness and incentive mechanisms, into new nominations and where appropriate into existing properties to ensure enhanced protection of World Heritage properties,
    2. Place particular emphasis on strategic environmental assessment and impact assessments for potential projects within buffer zones to avoid, negative impacts on OUV from developments and activities in these zones,
    3. Develop buffer zone protection and management regimes that optimize the capture and sharing of benefits to communities to support the aspirations of the 2015 Policy for the integration of a Sustainable Development Perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention,
    4. Ensure buffer zones are supported by appropriate protection and management regimes in line with the property’s OUV, that build connectivity with the wider setting in cultural, environmental and landscape terms;
  4. Encourages the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, through extra-budgetary support, to revisit and update the recommendations arising from the 2008 expert workshop to enhance capacity through the development of best practice guidelines for designing, establishing, protecting and managing World Heritage buffer zones;

“No-Go” commitment

  1. Welcomes the continued efforts of the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and other partners to expand the “No-go” commitment to other extractive companies, the banking and insurance sector, the hydropower industry and other relevant companies, commends ENGIE and bp for subscribing to the commitment, and takes note of the initial commitment of Eni, noting the need to strengthen it in order to meet the requests made in previous Committee decisions;
  2. Reiterates its request to all relevant private and public sector companies to integrate into their sustainability policies, provisions for ensuring that they are not financing or implementing projects that may negatively impact World Heritage properties and that the companies they are investing in subscribe to the “No-go” commitment, and invites these companies to lodge their adopted policies with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre;
  3. Also welcomes the global insurance industry Statement of commitment to protect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties, developed with the UNEP Finance Initiative Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI), also commends the 17 major insurance companies and other supporting institutions of the insurance sector that have so far adhered to the Statement and invites other insurance companies to do so;
  4. Further welcomes the guidance provided by the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) of the World Bank on Performance Standard 6 on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources that investment projects in natural and mixed World Heritage properties will not be acceptable for financing, with the possible exception of projects specifically designed to contribute to the conservation of the area;
  5. Acknowledges with appreciation the financial support of the Government of Flanders (Belgium) for this work and reiterates its request to the World Heritage Centre, in cooperation with the Advisory Bodies, to continue the fruitful dialogue with extractive industries the hydropower industry and other industries, the banking, insurance and investment sector, in line with its Decision 40 COM 7;

Fire: impacts and management

  1. Acknowledging the extensive damage of fires to natural and cultural World Heritage properties since 2019, and the growing threat of forest and bushfires to certain natural properties and their cultural values, including as a result of climate change impacts,
  2. Requests States Parties to implement best practice fire management strategies to ensure the protection and management of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) including, where appropriate, to:
    1. Prepare site-level fire vulnerability and risk assessments, mitigation, Risk Preparedness, response and recovery plans in the event of potential severe fire impacts on heritage values,
    2. Incorporate fire research, monitoring of impact, emergency response and mitigation and preparedness measures into management decisions,
    3. Work with stakeholders to raise awareness on fire risks among communities and build greater capacity to respond and recover following fires,
    4. Consider customised approaches and strategies that reflect the characteristics and circumstances of naturally and anthropogenically generated fires,
    5. Explore the potential of new technologies for application in fire managing strategies, including monitoring, and firefighting systems, that will not have negative impact on OUV of the properties,
    6. Take strong actions to address human-induced climate change in line with global United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commitments;

Urban pressures on cultural World Heritage properties

  1. Notes that the pressures on historic urban areas arising from inappropriate or inconsistent development controls, rapid, uncontrolled and planned development, including large development projects, additions that are incompatible in their volume, mass tourism, as well as the accumulated impact of incremental changes have continued within numerous World Heritage properties and in their buffer zones and settings, and considers that these present potential and actual major threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of properties, including their integrity and authenticity, as well as increasing their vulnerability to disasters, including those resulting from climate change;
  2. Also notes the unrelenting pressures of urbanization and urban development in recent years, the essential contribution of local communities, and the consequent need to support sustainable, compatible, and inclusive livelihoods for local communities and embed stakeholder engagement in management systems and processes, with a view to seeking solutions to protecting heritage in the framework of sustainable urban development to counter and manage the impacts of this ever-present threat;
  3. Notes with appreciation the outcomes of the International Workshop on Historic Urban Contexts in Fukuoka, Japan, in January 2020 (Fukuoka Outcomes) as well as the World Heritage City Lab in June 2020 that proposed several useful recommendations;
  4. Calls on States Parties to implement the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) in World Heritage properties with urban characteristics, in particular, following the methodology and recommendations of the Fukuoka Outcomes and the World Heritage City Lab, and use the opportunity of the 10th anniversary of the HUL Recommendation in 2021 to support key actions to implement the HUL Recommendation also in line with the 2030 Agenda and the New Urban Agenda;
  5. Stresses the importance of carrying out Heritage Impact Assessments to evaluate and thereby avoid or manage potential threats to the OUV of the property arising from new urban development projects;
  6. Also emphasizes the need to enhance resilience and recovery of World Heritage properties in urban areas vulnerable to climate change related impacts, in line with the HUL Recommendation and the World Heritage City Lab outcomes, while also enhancing the livability of the properties and their surrounding for their inhabitants;

Heritage Impact Assessments / Environmental Impact Assessments

  1. Welcomes the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage context through collaboration between the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre, and thanks the State Party of Norway for supporting this work through the ICCROM-IUCN World Heritage Leadership Programme;
  2. Requests States Parties to carry out subsequent Environmental Impact Assessment/Heritage Impact Assessment in line with the new guidance;
  3. Calls upon States Parties and organizations to provide additional funding and support for compiling the guidance on Strategic Environmental Assessment and support other capacity building activities on impact assessments;

Conservation of fabric, skills and traditional and contemporary technologies

  1. Recognizes that repair after disasters as well as continued maintenance over time of the integrity and authenticity of the fabric that contributes to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of cultural and mixed World Heritage properties require specific and specialist skills-sets and crafts, knowledge sets and systems often based in cultural-specific technologies developed over many generations;
  2. Notes that the challenges encountered in the maintenance and restoration of the physical fabric of cultural and mixed World Heritage properties often arise from the lack of appropriate knowledge and skills among craftspeople, as well as a lack of appropriate historically developed and utilised materials;
  3. Encourages the States Parties and all other stakeholders of the Convention to:
    1. Stimulate existing (and develop new) research programmes on traditional methods, technologies and materials, and encourage (and, where necessary support) the intergenerational transmission of traditional and contemporary restoration and maintenance skills, and also embed these in management systems, thereby supporting viable professions for the maintenance of physical human-made attributes that contribute to the OUV of cultural and mixed World Heritage properties,
    2. Facilitate the development of innovative bespoke technical approaches that enable the long-term sustainable physical conservation of significant fabric, where traditional practices can no longer address changing circumstance,
    3. Assist in the global dissemination of traditional knowledge, skills and methods for restoration and maintenance of physical fabric through exchanges, publications, digital and other media to benefit the maintenance and restoration of the physical fabric of cultural and mixed World Heritage properties;

Earth observation for World Heritage conservation

  1. Recalling that Earth observation satellite technologies, spatial data and analysis tools have tremendously improved over the past decade and that they provide powerful additional means for decision-makers and stakeholders of the Convention to find comprehensive solutions to today’s global challenges for World Heritage properties,
  2. Takes note with satisfaction that the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Secretariat and GEO Greek Office, has recently launched the Urban Heritage Climate Observatory (UHCO) as a GEO Community Activity that applies earth observation tools to understand and document the impacts of climate change on World Heritage cities and invites States Parties to contribute to the UHCO with data, expertise, networks, and financial resources;
  3. Requests States Parties, the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies, UNESCO Category 2 Centres and other relevant institutions to continue exploring collaborative partnerships, which apply innovative technological advances in remote sensing to the improved monitoring and protection of World Heritage properties;
  4. Reiterates its encouragements to States Parties to invest in the necessary institutional and individual capacity needed to make full use of such Earth observation technologies for the early detection of activities potentially harmful to the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties and to better understand trends and respond appropriately.
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