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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 7B.104
Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region (Albania, North Macedonia) (C/N 99quater)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.7[7] adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Welcomes the joint efforts of the States Parties to develop a Strategic Recovery Plan for the property but calls on the States Parties to ensure the following:
    1. The inclusion of an implementation timeframe, budget and prioritisation for each action in the Strategic Recovery Plan,
    2. The extension to Albania of the implementation of actions envisaged only in North Macedonia but relevant to both States Parties,
    3. Adequately staffed, resourced and mandated national teams to liaise and coordinate with all relevant institutions to guarantee the integration of the actions of the Strategic Recovery Plan into national policies and plans, as well as an inter-institutional effort to halt and reverse the threats and achieve the goals set out in the Strategic Recovery Plan;
  4. Urges the States Parties to put in place immediate emergency measures to bring together all relevant actors to stop new threats and reverse existing threats before the Strategic Recovery Plan has been finalised, approved and begun to take effect;
  5. Notes with serious concern the assessment made in Chapter 4 of the Strategic Recovery Plan regarding the vulnerability of the property and the negative factors affecting it and urgently requests that:
    1. Amendments to Detailed Urban Plans and approval of Local Development Plans outside settlements be suspended until a Heritage Impact Assessment at the strategic level is carried out and demonstrates that the attributes underlying the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are not adversely affected by these plans,
    2. the General Urban Plans for Ohrid and Struga and the spatial planning instruments for non-built-up areas be elaborated as a matter of urgency and in full respect of the attributes underlying the OUV of the property;
  6. Requests to the State Party of North Macedonia to submit to the World Heritage Centre, upon completion, the feasibility study for the Urban Plan for areas and buildings of State importance in the coastal belt of the Ohrid region for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Urges the State Party of North Macedonia to finalise the proclamation of Studenčišča Marsh as a nature park and Lake Ohrid as a Monument of Nature, and to ensure that management measures conserve the key ecological processes and features which contribute to the property’s OUV;
  8. Expresses its deepest concern about the approval of the Drilon-Tushemisht Water Park project without the corresponding recommendations of the 2020 Reactive Monitoring mission having been implemented and requests the State Party of Albania to halt further implementation of the project and transmit to the World Heritage Centre the detailed documentation of the approved project, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Requests the State Party of North Macedonia to provide to the World Heritage Centre detailed documentation of approved projects for the A2 Kichevo-Ohrid section of the highway for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  10. Also requests the States Parties to continue addressing the issue of illegal buildings and structures and to ensure that those already removed are not reinstated and that new illegal structures do not occur;
  11. Further requests the States Parties to ensure systematic assessment of impacts of plans and projects, including but not limited to the project for the re-routing of the Sateska River and the plan for revised route for the railway Corridor VIII in its section between the North Macedonian and Albanian borders, on the attributes of OUV of the property according to the Guidance and Toolkit on Impact Assessments in World Heritage Context;
  12. Regrets that, despite initial efforts by the States Parties to redress threats to the property, tangible outcomes are yet to be achieved and risk being undermined by ever-emerging threats and lack of a coherent vision shared by all actors to conserve the property’s OUV and strongly urges the States Parties to implement immediate emergency measures to address existing threats and prevent emerging threats from negatively impacting the OUV of the property;
  13. Further requests the States Parties to strengthen their transboundary coordination and cooperation in addressing the threats to the property by:
    1. Enhancing reciprocal communication and coordination about plans and projects that may impact the attributes underlying the property’s OUV,
    2. Continuing improvements to the resourcing of the transboundary working group established for the preparation of the Strategic Recovery Plan with the mandate to support the operational implementation of the plan;
  14. Requests the States Parties to invite, as a matter of urgency, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property in order to examine the effective implementation of the immediate emergency measures, the level of mobilisation and coordination of all the stakeholders involved as well as the implementation of the recommendations of the 2020 mission and the repeated requests of the Committee, and to assess the overall state of conservation of the property;
  15. Requests the States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, a revised draft of the Strategic Recovery Plan and a joint 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 46th session, considering that the urgent conservation needs of this property require a broad mobilisation to preserve its Outstanding Universal Value, including the possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Context of Decision