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World Heritage Convention

Decision 44 COM 7A.45
Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) (N 63)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.11, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Deplores the further loss of life of protected area staff killed in the line of duty and local communities, and addresses its most sincere condolences to their families and to all the staff of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN);
  4. Expresses its deep concern regarding ongoing insecurity due to the continued presence of more than 1,000 armed elements operating in the property, rendering management operations extremely hazardous and leading to the persistence of illegal activities while endangering the life of the surveillance staff of the Park and local communities, but commends the protected area authority for its continued conservation efforts in spite of the challenging security situation;
  5. Welcomes the transboundary conservation efforts with Uganda and Rwanda through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Cooperation (GVTC) and conservation efforts resulting in a significant increase in the population of mountain gorilla population in the property and the Greater Virunga Landscape;
  6. Notes with concern that flagship species remain threatened and poaching continues, and requests the State Party to continue its effort to curb poaching and to submit the results of flagship species inventories, as well as the biological indicators for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) to be finalized in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  7. Again expresses its utmost concern about the extent of encroachment on the property which, combined with the continued illegal exploitation of its natural resources, severely affects the integrity of the property, and urges the State Party to ensure that local, provincial and national authorities cooperate with the Park management to halt encroachment and take measures to recover the invaded areas;
  8. While noting that currently no oil exploration activities are on-going in the property, regretsthat the State Party has not confirmed its commitment not to authorize new petroleum exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of the property, as was established at the time of inscription on the World Heritage List in 1979, and reiterates its request to the State Party to cancel the petroleum concessions granted inside the property;
  9. Recalls again its positionaccording to which all mining, petroleum and gas exploration and exploitation is incompatible with World Heritage status, a policy supported by the commitments undertaken by the leaders of the industry not to engage in such activities in World Heritage properties;
  10. Also requests the State Party to continue its efforts to implement all corrective measures as updated by the 2018 Reactive Monitoring mission and to continue the implementation of the sustainable development activities established in the framework of the Virunga Alliance;
  11. Further requests the State Party to provide an overview of all existing and planned hydropower projects around the property, to ensure that potential impacts of developments including cumulative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property are fully considered, and to inform the World Heritage Centre of any new developments in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, prior to any activities being undertaken;
  12. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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 45th session;
  13. Decides to continue to apply the Reinforced Monitoring Mechanism for the property;
  14. Also decides to retain Virunga National Park (Democratic Republic of the Congo) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decision Code
44 COM 7A.45
Properties 1
State of conservation reports
2021 Virunga National Park
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision