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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 7B.43
Town of Luang Prabang (Lao People's Democratic Republic) (C 479bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.32 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Acknowledges the State Party’s efforts to implement activities for preservation, education and monitoring, but reiterates its request to the State Party to submit the Infrastructure Development Plan for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to its final approval and implementation;
  4. Acknowledges the findings and recommendations of the 2022 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, and the continuing efforts by the State Party to address those findings and invites the State Party to continue implementing all mission recommendations, and in particular to:
    1. Address the preservation of attributes that support the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property by:
      1. Affording priority to the 142 remaining buildings, especially those entirely constructed of wood, as part of a contingency plan for cases of advance decay, including possible public allocations,
      2. Ensuring access to affordable materials for construction and repair, as well as traditional conservation skills to sustain the authenticity of the property,
      3. Pursuing the rehabilitation programme for wetlands and ponds, highly valued ecological attributes of OUV,
      4. Considering public outreach projects to valorise intangible aspects that sustain the Town of Luang Prabang’s urban fabric as a living entity,
    2. Pursue its work updating the Luang Prabang Conservation Plan (PSMV), with technical and financial support by various partners by:
      1. Including the appropriate sub-categories such as ‘Civil Buildings’ and regularly updating GIS inventories of attributes of OUV and adding the contour levels of the embankments, water levels and depth soundings of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, to enable chronological tracking,
      2. Elaborating policies as part of the PSMV to embrace all elements that support the property’s OUV (built heritage, natural, environmental and intangible attributes), and referring to the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), and the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape,
      3. Reflecting on authenticity as it is applicable to the Asian context, including reference to the Nara Document on Authenticity and the Hoi An Protocols,
    3. Address ongoing and future development initiatives to safeguard the full set of attributes of OUV through proactive planning efforts and a deeper understanding of the social, natural and cultural attributes of the property’s OUV and their interconnection, and notably to:
      1. Prioritize the studies suggested by the 2019 Technical Review to inform the concept of future actions relating to the riverbank protection, and consider a hybrid system to suit different riverbank landscapes when applicable, in the interest of sustainable development,
      2. Consider alternative approaches to the proposed replacement of the Nam Khan River Bridge in light of the ICOMOS technical review, and the option proposed by the Reactive Monitoring mission of a like-for-like replacement,
      3. Establish and apply Urban Design Guidelines to preserve streetscapes and materials to be used in future development projects in and around the inscribed and buffer zones;
  5. Recommends the State Party to continue its efforts in the HIA for the Luang Prabang Hydropower Project (LPHPP) and other future and similar projects so that they pose no threat to the World Heritage properties, their associated values or their environmental setting and notes that previous studies and the Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) were submitted in November 2021, December 2022 and January 2023, respectively;
  6. Also notes that the State Party will further elaborate the proposed Mekong and Nam Khan Riverbank Protection project in accordance with the most-recent ICOMOS technical advice, and encourages the State Party to further explore bio-engineered solutions which will ensure protection against disasters as well as maintaining attributes which support the OUV of the property;
  7. Invites the State Party to strengthen governance and coordination mechanisms relating to the management of the property by:
    1. Elaborating an Integrated Tourism Management Plan, in line with the World Heritage Sustainable Tourism guidelines and the ICOMOS International Charter for Cultural Heritage and other relevant guidelines, based on a carrying capacity study, to inform the measures to regulate tourism-related activities and infrastructure development, to prioritise the actions, including those to ensure safety and security of visitors (e.g., Mount Phousi),
    2. Resuming the operationalisation of the Heritage Fund with the return of tourists and possible complementary financial support to assist necessary repair and maintenance works for the most significant traditional architecture,
    3. Maintaining the former Luang Prabang World Heritage Office (LPWHO) under restructuring as the unified technical entity overlooking the various aspects of the management of the property with necessary human and financial reinforcement,
    4. Strengthening the role of National and Provincial Committees for National Heritage to ensure the proactive and informed coordination for major development projects;
  8. Requests the State Party to integrate the World Heritage Convention’s principles within the broader context of territorial and developmental planning for World Heritage properties in Lao PDR, including for the properties’ buffer zones and wider settings, and to widen the recognition of heritage-related impact assessments and of the obligations of States Parties to the Convention among national and international development stakeholders, to ensure the coherence of the management framework;
  9. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2024, 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 46th session, considering that the urgent conservation needs of this property require a broad mobilization to preserve its Outstanding Universal Value.