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World Heritage Convention

Decision 45 COM 7B.51
Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra (Albania) (C 569bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decisions 39 COM 7B.75, 41 COM 7B.40, 43 COM 7B.79 and 44 COM 7B.151 adopted at its 39th (Bonn, 2015), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 43th (Baku, 2019) and its extended 44th (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress made in improving the state of conservation of the property, as well as for providing financial stimulus to private owners to undertake conservation and maintenance work;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to upgrading urban regulations for both Berat and Gjirokastra and to developing an integrated urban conservation and development tool, and reiterates its request to the State Party to diversify its development plans for the property to stimulate a broad resilient economic basis for its future;
  5. Notes with regret the failure of the State Party to fully implement the international assistance granted for the development of the Integrated Management Plan (IMP) for the property, in collaboration with governmental and civic sectors, despite Committee’s previous decisions, urges the State Party to finalise the IMP as a matter of urgency, taking into account the comments and recommendations already made by the Advisory Bodies in the context of the international assistance project and requests the State Party to submit a pre-final draft to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  6. Further notes with regret the resumption of the construction of the Gjirokastra bypass road before the conclusions of the Reactive Monitoring mission of December 2021 were available and could be taken into account, and therefore also requests the State Party to urgently complete a full independent Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Gjirokastra bypass road before its construction reaches a point where no significant mitigation would be possible, to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, and to ensure the implementation of the identified mitigation measures and the development of any necessary modifications to the road during the subsequent construction phase, where appropriate, to minimise impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  7. Further notes that the Gjirokastra bypass road is one of many development projects within/or in the setting of the property and neither the cumulative nor the individual impacts of all these development projects including of the Project for Integrated Urban and Tourism Development (PIUTD) on the OUV have been comprehensively assessed;
  8. Notes the conclusions and recommendations of the 2021 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission, and further requests the State Party to implement these in full, and in particular the following key recommendations:
    1. HIAs should be a legal prerequisite for development projects and directly linked into the provisions of the regulations of both Berat and Gjirokastra,
    2. The IMP must have proper legal status allowing for its effective implementation,
    3. A comprehensive long-term development strategy for the property, including tourism management should be developed, with a focus on enhancing synergies of the World Heritage property with the intangible and natural heritage of its wider setting, and linked to the IMP,
    4. A HIA of the cumulative impacts of the PIUTD and other development projects on the OUV of the entire property and its setting should be conducted,
    5. The bypass road in Gjirokastra should be fully reflected in the mobility plan for Gjirokastra currently under development to ensure the impacts on the OUV are taken into account,
    6. A landscape study of the valley (Gjirokastra), including the historic evolution and its use over time as well as its relationship with the town morphology, should be conducted as part of the HIA of the bypass road or separately;
  9. Also notes the submission of details for the restoration of the three footbridges over the Zerzebili River, requests furthermore the State Party, for all development projects that may affect the OUV of the property, to submit project details to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to any irreversible approval or decision, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to commission, in accordance with Paragraph 118bis of the Operational Guidelines, HIAs focusing on the property’s OUV, to be carried out in conformity with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and recalls that these documents, or at least their executive summaries, should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre in one of the working languages of the Committee;
  10. Requests moreover the State Party to continue its efforts to limit the occurrence of illegal construction activities in the property;
  11. Finally 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.
Context of Decision