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World Heritage Convention

Decision 23 COM X.C.48-61
World Heritage and Mining

X.48 The Committee recalled that, based on discussions of specific cases at its twenty-second session, the former Chairperson, Professor Francioni, recommended the establishment of an informal contact group on mining and World Heritage sites during the annual sessions of the Committee and the Bureau.

X.49 The Committee noted that a dialogue with the mining industry had commenced and that the Centre, IUCN and ICOMOS had been invited by the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME) to a working session on "Mining and Protected Areas and other Ecologically Sensitive Sites" on 20 October 1998 in London (UK).

X.50 The Committee was informed that the Bureau (July 1999) took note of the "WCPA Position Statement on Mining and Associated Activities in Relation to Protected Areas" (Information Document) and of further initiatives, including collaboration with UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics and other units in UNESCO. The Chairperson, noting that the Bureau might wish to reflect on the relevance of WCPA's Position Statement in the light of its deliberations on mining threats to specific sites, suggested that the WCPA Position Statement be submitted as a working document to the twenty-third session of the Committee. The document was presented as WHC-99/CONF.209/20.

X.51 IUCN reported to the Bureau that the statement had been prepared by the WCPA, one of the six commissions of IUCN with more than 1,400 members in 140 countries. The Position Statement on Mining was developed within the WCPA network. IUCN stated that mining is a key issue in many countries and this statement had been developed for the world's protected areas in general, rather than for World Heritage sites specifically. However, the principles in the Position Statement may be applicable. The aims of the Statement are to: (a) provide a global framework to guide WCPA approaches; (b) provide a framework for countries to consider and adapt as needed in local circumstances; (c) establish a framework based on the IUCN protected area categories system which is focused on the objectives of protected area management. Finally, IUCN noted that mining is an issue at many World Heritage sites. IUCN is prepared to continue consultations on this issue, including with UNESCO and UNEP, as well as the mining industry and its International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME).

X.52 The Representative of ICOMOS commended WCPA for the Position Statement and fully supported it. He underlined that the exploitation of mineral resources and its impacts do not concern only natural sites, but also cultural landscapes and other cultural properties.

X.53 The Delegate of Canada supported the WCPA Position Statement and the ongoing work on protected areas and mining, and stated that there are specific concerns on mining in relation to World Heritage sites. He strongly supported a technical session, which should be carried out in collaboration with the mining industry.

X.54 The Observer of the United States of America wished to ensure that the status of the discussion paper provided by the WCPA as a working paper for the Committee meeting be clarified. The WCPA draft statement was the subject of a recent hearing before the United States Congress, because the impression had been conveyed that it would be proposed to the World Heritage Committee in Marrakesh, to adopt a policy that would ban mining outside World Heritage sites. Some of the confusion on this point occurred because Bureau document prepared for the July session suggested that the WCPA position statement on mining be recommended to the Committee for adoption. It is the understanding of the United States that this document was tabled for information purposes only. It is therefore noted for the record that this document is not recommended for adoption by the Committee. If the Committee chooses to authorize or participate in any follow-up discussions on the subject of mining and World Heritage, it is the position of the United States that these discussions must be fully transparent and open to stakeholders. It is noted, for example, that the International Council on Metals and the Environment (ICME) was invited to comment on the WCPA policy, but the National Mining Association of the United States was not involved at all. The United States Observer further noted that mining policy is an internal matter for sovereign states and that the Committee is not dictating what domestic policies on this issue should be. Any results of follow-up discussions on mining policy will be strictly advisory to the States Parties.

X.55 To further clarify the discussion, she provided a text of the testimony presented at the hearing referenced above, given by the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks of the U.S. Department of the Interior, a former head of the U.S. Delegation to the World Heritage Committee. Her statement is provided in Annex IX.

X.56 In responding, IUCN reiterated to the Committee that the WCPA document is for information only, as it is clearly an internal document of IUCN. There is no intention to ban mining outside World Heritage sites, as has been suggested.

X.57 The Delegate of Australia stated his support for the IUCN work on protected areas and noted that collaboration with the mining industry exists, in particular in relation to the IUCN Protected Area Category VI. He informed the Committee that his Government would be pleased to share experiences on this issue.

X.58 The Observer of France commended the approach taken by the Secretariat and IUCN and underlined that there are threats to World Heritage sites. He suggested a code of conduct would be needed. This should also be taken into account in relation to marine sites and oil exploration, in particular in view of the expansion of economic activities.

X.59 The Delegate of Benin shared the view expressed by France and welcomed the debate, as in the past years this issue had been discussed in relation to specific World Heritage sites. He underlined that different regions should be involved in this debate. The Delegate of South Africa noted support for the Position Statement and commented that cultural sites be also taken into account.

X.60 The Director of the Centre and the Chairperson thanked the Committee for the rich debate. The Committee adopted the following decision:

"The Committee

(a) took note of the document in light of its deliberations on threats and potential threats from mining to specific World Heritage properties,

(b) recognized that there may possibly be additional issues and problems that are specific to the management of World Heritage sites facing ascertained and potential impacts from mining projects;

(c) requested the Centre to co-operate with interested UNESCO units, the advisory bodies, UN agencies (such as the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics in Paris), other concerned agencies and representatives from interested States Parties to the Convention and representatives of the mining industry, to organize a technical meeting to analyse case studies on World Heritage and mining during global events already planned for the year 2000 (e.g. the IUCN World Conservation Congress due to be held in Amman, Jordan, in October 2000), and develop recommendations for review and discussion by the twenty-fourth session of the Committee.

(d) asked the Chairperson to write a letter to the Director- General of IUCN concerning the organization of a technical session on World Heritage and Mining at the World Conservation Congress (Amman, Jordan, in October 2000)."

X.61 The Committee also took note of a debate on two other general issues, relevant to a number of World Heritage sites, discussed by the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau: Fire management/control, and invasive species. The Delegate of Thailand recalled that he had made a statement during the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau.

Decision Code
23 COM X.C.48-61
Report of the rapporteur
Context of Decision