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Decision 44 COM 7B.91
The Sundarbans (Bangladesh) (N 798)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7B.25 and 43 COM 7B.3, adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 43rd (Baku, 2019) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with satisfaction the conclusion of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission that the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including its hydrological and ecological processes and its biodiversity, remains present;
  4. Notes that possible impacts from large-scale industrial developments may result in a high risk for the property’s OUV if no further measures are taken based on a comprehensive assessment of existing and possible future negative factors and pressures;
  5. Considers that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the South-West region of Bangladesh should provide an adequate planning instrument to ensure that all future large-scale industrial development in the vicinity of the property will not adversely impact the OUV;
  6. Welcomes the substantial efforts to enhance the protection of the property’s OUV through the implementation of various conservation measures, including a new initiative to establish a long-term ecological monitoring system with a view to building climate resilience;
  7. Appreciates the close cooperation between the State Party, UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies in strengthening proactive planning for the management of the property in the framework of the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust, and encourages the State Party to continue active dialogue and engagement with UNESCO, the Advisory Bodies and other relevant stakeholders to complement its efforts to strengthen management of the property;
  8. Also welcomes the State Party’s progress in implementing action points agreed at the first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Working Group in 2016, and requests the States Parties of Bangladesh and India to undertake a coordinated effort, notably to strengthen integration of the consideration of the hydrology of the property and that of the Sundarbans National Park in India in bilateral cooperation;
  9. Also notes with satisfaction that the State Party has not given environmental clearance or permission for any large-scale industrial development adjacent to the property since the adoption of Decision 41 COM 7B.25;
  10. Further notes with satisfaction that 20 large-scale (Red Category) enterprises within the Sundarbans Ecologically Critical Area are under rigorous compliance monitoring and that approved dredging activities on the Pashur River are operating in accordance with the Environmental Management Plans, further welcomes the finalization of the National Oil and Chemical Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCOP), which includes the provision of funding and human resources for its implementation in order to prevent and mitigate negative impacts from shipping operations, and also requests the State Party to further develop an effective localized contingency plan covering the property to ensure immediate and coordinated actions to mitigate impacts in case of emergency;
  11. Noting that the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission report was made available only on 16 June 2021, further requests the State Party to fully implement all the recommendations made by the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission and previous Committee decisions;
  12. Welcomes furthermore the efforts made by the State Party to advance the SEA for the South-West region, now scheduled for completion in August 2021, urges the State Party to ensure that the findings of the SEA form the basis for future decision making on development that may impact the OUV of the property, and requests moreover the State Party to submit the final SEA, including the strategic environmental management plan, to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN and subsequent examination by the Committee at its 45th session;
  13. Also notes the ongoing expansion and dredging operations near Mongla Port would require additional maintenance dredging and are likely to increase traffic on the Pashur River, and also urges the State Party to ensure that no further decision is made for any new large-scale industrial and/or infrastructural development, which may influence the OUV of the property, until the SEA for the South-West region of Bangladesh is completed;
  14. Expresses satisfaction on the progress made by the State Party in addressing issues raised by the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission over the construction of the Rampal power plant, but notes with concern that the development of  the large scale industrial projects could potentially impact the property’s OUV and should not proceed before the completion of  the SEA in line with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines;
  15. Finally requests 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.
Decision Code
44 COM 7B.91
Themes
Conservation
States Parties 1
Properties 1
Year
2021
State of conservation reports
2021 The Sundarbans
Documents
WHC/21/44.COM/18
Decisions adopted at the 44th extended session of the World Heritage Committee
Context of Decision
WHC-21/44.COM/7B.Add
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