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Reducing Disasters Risks at World Heritage Properties

World Heritage properties and heritage sites in general are exposed to the impacts of natural and man-triggered catastrophic events, which threaten their integrity and may compromise their value. The loss or deterioration of these outstanding properties has severely negative impacts on local and national communities, both because of their cultural importance, and because of their socio-economic value.

Why Disaster Risk Reduction?

The earthquake that occurred in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April 2015 or the fire at the Royal Palaces of Abomey, Benin, in January 2015 are high profile examples of the vulnerability of cultural heritage worldwide.

Natural heritage can, quite similarly, be threatened by such events. Disaster risk at heritage sites is in part a function of their exposure to hazards that are determined by their natural and technological environment (e.g. earthquake- or flood-prone areas, industrialized zones, human-activity etc.). However, disaster risk is not only a measure of external, potential threats, but also of the inherent vulnerabilities existing at any given site.

If on the one hand natural hazards are harder to foresee or control, on the other, vulnerabilities can be more easily addressed in an effort to lower disaster risk at any given location; this because vulnerability is related to a diminished capacity to anticipate, cope with, and respond to the impact of a given hazard, and is determined by factors that can be more easily influenced (e.g. risk awareness, existence of appropriate response capacities, socio-economic factors etc.).

It is therefore very important to invest in reducing disaster risks at World Heritage properties in order to mitigate the possible impact of major hazards on these precious resources.

Recent studies, moreover, have demonstrated how heritage, in both its tangible and intangible forms, is not simply a passive entity in the face of disaster, but has a significant potential for reducing disaster risks in general. This potential can be harnessed to reduce vulnerabilities, and thus negative impacts on lives, property, and livelihoods, before, during and after a catastrophic event.

Heritage plays a crucial role in fostering resilience by reducing vulnerabilities, and also by providing precious assets for the sustainable social and economic development of an affected region during its recovery phase, by attracting investment, creating employment, or providing renewable natural resources. This is why the protection of heritage in the event of disaster is of paramount importance.

The Need for Action

There are many ways in which heritage can assist in reducing the impact of disasters. For instance, research in areas affected by seismic activities has shown that buildings constructed with traditional techniques have proven very resilient to earthquakes when well maintained.

For example, many observers noted that the preservation of traditional mud-brick and timber-laced dwellings would have most likely reduced the tragic death toll of the 2003 Bam, Iran, earthquake, as nearly all casualties were reported to have occurred in buildings constructed less than 40 years before, using a non-engineered and uncontrolled mix of modern techniques. Similarly, an appropriate use of land and the conservation of forests have been identified as major contributors to preventing landslides and floods.

The recent case of the fishermen from the Andaman Islands, who survived the 2005 tsunami because they knew, from their forefathers, that when the sea withdraws, humans must do the same, is another testimony to the ways in which traditional knowledge can help save lives. Similar traditional knowledge ensures fire protection at the World Heritage site of the Kiyomizu Dera Temple of Kyoto, in Japan. Other examples can be found in all regions of the world. Heritage and the traditional skills that have maintained it over the centuries, therefore, can be essential to enhance prevention and mitigation of disasters.

Despite all this, many World Heritage properties do not have any established policy, plan or process for managing, i.e. reducing risks associated with disasters. Moreover, existing national and local disaster preparedness and response mechanisms usually do not include heritage expertise in their operations. As a result, hundreds of sites are critically exposed to potential hazards, while communities worldwide are not harnessing the full potential of their heritage, both tangible and intangible, for reducing disaster risk. 

This is why the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has started working, together with States Parties to the World Heritage Convention, Advisory Bodies and other partners, to integrate a consideration for heritage in DRR policies and programmes, and to strengthen preparedness for disaster risks at World Heritage sites. Actions undertaken include the development of a Strategy for Reducing Risks from Disasters at World Heritage Properties, the organisation of technical workshops and the publication of resource materials, as well as the provision of International Assistance mechanisms.

UN Policies and UNESCO Strategy

Heritage in DRR policies –
The Sendai Framework

In 1994, a UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was convened to bring together government officials, non-governmental experts and other specialists, in order to discuss preparation, response, and mitigation measures to face the growing incidence of natural disasters. Since then, two other conferences have been held: one in Kobe, Japan (January 2005), which adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015, and one in Sendai, Japan (March 2015), that adopted the Sendai Framework for Action 2015 - 2030.

The latter in particular will orient Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies and actions at the international and national level for the next fifteen years. It revolves around the following key pillars:

Priority 1
Understanding disaster risk

DRR should be based on an understanding of disaster risk in all its dimensions of vulnerability, capacity, exposure of persons and assets, hazard characteristics and the environment;

Priority 2
Strengthening disaster risk governance
to manage disaster risk

Clear vision, plans, competence, guidance, and coordination within and across sectors of risk governance, as well as participation of relevant stakeholders, are needed; 

Priority 3
Investing in disaster risk reduction
for resilience

Public and private investment in DRR is a cost-effective mechanism to enhance the economic, social, health and cultural resilience of persons, communities, countries and their assets, as well as the environment; 

Priority 4
Enhancing disaster preparedness
for effective response and to “Build Back Better” in recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction

Empowering women and persons with disabilities to publicly lead and promote gender equitable and universally accessible approaches is essential. Disaster response is also a unique opportunity to “Build Back Better”, including through the integration of DRR into development measures.

This new international DRR policy, unlike its predecessors, includes a number of important references to culture and heritage (e.g. paras 4, 5, 14, 16, 16, 17, 19-c, d, 24-d, 29, 30-d, 33). The Sendai Framework advocates for a culturally-sensitive approach to DRR in general, and calls for the protection of cultural heritage from disaster risks across its four priority areas of action.

In this way, the document provides a solid foundation for UNESCO to advocate for the integration of culture and heritage within DRR, and to work in this area with the appropriate partners at regional and national levels.

Strategy for Reducing Risks from Disasters at World Heritage Properties

The Strategy for Risk Reduction at World Heritage Properties was presented and approved by the World Heritage Committee at its 31st session in 2007. Its priority actions, listed below, were structured around the five main objectives defined by the Hyogo Framework for Action, the main UN-wide policy on the subject of Disaster Reduction existing at the time of its conception (2005-2015).

  1. Strengthen support within relevant global, regional, national and local institutions for reducing risks at World Heritage properties;
  2. Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of disaster prevention at World Heritage properties;
  3. Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks at World Heritage properties;
  4. Reduce underlying risk factors at World Heritage properties;
  5. Strengthen disaster preparedness at World Heritage properties for effective response at all levels.

The Strategy, in line with Article 5 of the World Heritage Convention as well as with the Strategic Objectives established by the Budapest Declaration, addresses disaster risks that threaten the integrity and/or authenticity of World Heritage sites. It is innovative in that it emphasizes, for the first time, the positive role that heritage can play in reducing the impact of catastrophic events through the goods and services it provides to local communities.

The purpose of the Strategy is thus to strengthen the protection of World Heritage and contribute to sustainable development by assisting States Parties to integrate a concern for heritage into their national DRR policies, as well as into the management plans for World Heritage properties.

World Heritage Committee Decisions

The following Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee are relevant to risks and disasters:

  • 38 COM 7, “State of conservation of World Heritage properties” (Doha, 2014) 
  • 36 COM 7C, “Reflection on the Trends of the State of Conservation” (Saint-Petersburg, 2012)
  • 35 COM 12E, “Global state of conservation challenges of World Heritage properties” (UNESCO, 2011) 
  • 34 COM 7C, “Reflection on the trends of the state of conservation” (Brasilia, 2010)
  • 34 COM 7.3, “Progress report on the implementation of the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties” (Brasilia, 2010) 
  • 33 COM 7C, “General Decision on the State of Conservation of World Heritage properties” (Seville, 2009)
  • 31 COM 7.1, “Issues relative to the state of conservation of world heritage properties : the impacts of climate change on world heritage properties” (Christchurch, 2007) 
  • 31 COM 7.2, “Issues relative to the state of conservation of world heritage properties : strategy for risk reduction at world heritage properties” (Christchurch, 2007)
  • 30 COM 7.2, “Issues Related to the State of Conservation of World Heritage Properties: Strategy for Reducing the Risks from Disasters at World Heritage Properties” (Vilnius, 2006) 

Workshops

UNESCO, in cooperation with its partner institutions, has organized a number of workshops on the subject of disaster risk reduction. These have resulted in proceedings and resource materials that may help managers of World Heritage properties and other cultural professionals in developing DRR strategies.

Resources

R-DMUCH Interactive Training Guide on Disaster Risk Management of Cultural Heritage in Urban Areas

Supported by ICCROM, UNESCO and ICOMOS, this guide is based on the experience gathered during the yearly International Training Course organized by the Institute of Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage at Ritsumeikan University (R-DMUCH) in Kyoto, Japan, since 2006. It is meant to assist institutions wishing to develop a similar training in their own context (e.g. category 2 centres, regional heritage institutions or UNESCO Chairs). A short movie accompanies the training guide. 

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Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Guidelines.
Volume B. Social Sectors – Culture
(2008)

The European Commission, the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and the World Bank signed a joint declaration in 2008 committing to collaborate on a common approach to assessing, planning and mobilizing support for recovery to countries and populations affected by disasters. The main instrument for achieving this goal has been the development and use of Post-Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNAs) that bring together national and international stakeholders to align recovery efforts in a coordinated and effective way. A PDNA is a government led and owned exercise supported by the EU, the UN System and the World Bank. Through a PDNA, information is collected on the socio-economic effects and impacts of a disaster on key sectors, as well as the recovery needs, including the human development needs of the affected population. A single, consolidated assessment report is prepared and serves as a basis for formulating a comprehensive recovery framework. The findings guide the design and implementation of early- and long-term recovery programmes and help determine international development assistance needed. 

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Resource Manual on
‘Managing Disaster Risks for World Heritage’
(2010)

Rather than presenting specific techniques for addressing various types of hazards, this Manual is meant to provide site managers and heritage administrators with a strong methodological framework to identify, assess and reduce disaster risks. Tested at some World Heritage properties, the Manual integrates some innovative approaches, such as the consideration of the positive contribution that heritage can make to reducing disaster risks in general, and the potential of using traditional knowledge in DRR strategies. 

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World Heritage Review n°74 (January 2015)
on “Fostering Resilience”

This issue focusses on the risks that threaten World Heritage sites as well as on the different elements that good risk management must include: traditional protection systems, resource management, strategies based on traditional knowledge and communal management. It examines as well the diverse manners in which the protection of cultural and natural heritage can play a positive role in fostering the resilience of local communities.

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International Assistance

The World Heritage Convention provides International Assistance to States Parties for the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage located on their territories and inscribed, or potentially suitable for inscription, on the World Heritage List. International Assistance has been provided to States Parties under the World Heritage Fund, in order to respond to disasters and protect World Heritage sites from disasters in two forms: Emergency Assistance, and Conservation and Management Assistance.

Emergency Assistance

Guidance on the use of Emergency Assistance can be found in Annex 9 of the Operational Guidelines, while the policies regulating its procedures are described in paragraph 241. According to this paragraph, "This assistance may be requested to address ascertained or potential threats facing properties included on the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List which have suffered severe damage or are in imminent danger of severe damage due to sudden, unexpected phenomena. Such phenomena may include land subsidence, extensive fires, explosions, flooding or man-made disasters including war. This assistance does not concern cases of damage or deterioration caused by gradual processes of decay, pollution or erosion...."

It is therefore understood that Emergency Assistance should be provided only in case an imminent danger, posed by a natural or human-made hazard, is threatening the overall Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage property; this to prevent or mitigate its impacts on the site. Emergency assistance could also be provided to assess whether a site is exposed to an imminent threat.

Examples of projects funded through the Emergency Assistance:

Post-earthquake Assistance for the Field Investigation and Rehabilitation of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries (China): after the earthquake in Sichuan, China, in 2008 and the ensuing severe damage to the ecological system of Panda Sanctuaries, assistance was granted to a project helping the management agency with disaster evaluation of the sites, needs assessment, and re-building of capacity of the sites management authority.

Emergency assistance request for Galápagos Islands (Ecuador): assistance was required for Ecuadorian authorities to mitigate the negative environmental impacts caused by the oil tanker accident that took place on 16th January 2001 near San Cristobal Island, in the Galapagos archipelago.

Conservation and Management Assistance

In situations where World Heritage properties have neither been affected by a disaster nor are under imminent threat, Conservation and Management Assistance allows for capacity-building and training in the context of preparedness. The principles regulating the award of this type of aid are outlined in paragraph 241 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

Examples of projects funded through the Conservation and Management Assistance:

Annual Seminary Workshop on Cultural Heritage Risk Prevention for the Caribbean and Central America (Dominican Republic): Assistance was granted to the Dominican Republic in 2002 in order to help it hold a follow-up meeting of a 1998 Risk Prevention for the Caribbean and Central America workshop, addressing damage caused by Hurricane George. The meeting aimed at (1) improving the capacity of site managers, (2) integrating risk prevention in official national programs, (3) improving preparedness for disasters, and (4) elaborating guidelines for risk prevention at specific sites.

Other types of assistance

The Rapid Response Facility (RRF): In addition to International Assistance, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, together with Fauna & Flora International (FFI), and the United Nations Foundation have been operating the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) since 2006. It is a mechanism to rapidly provide grants (up to 30,000 USD), and respond to threats to biodiversity at natural World Heritage sites. Grants can be evaluated and provided within eight working days.

The Heritage Emergency Fund (HEF): The Heritage Emergency Fund is a multi-donor fund for the protection of heritage in emergency situations. It was created by UNESCO to finance activities and projects that enable the Organization to assist its Member States in protecting natural and cultural heritage from disasters and conflicts by more effectively preparing for and responding to emergencies.

Cultural Emergency Response (CER): The Prince Claus Fund is a Dutch foundation aiming at increasing cultural awareness as well as promoting exchanges between the culture and the development sector. With this intention, the foundation initiated the Cultural Emergency Response (CER) programme in 2003, which provides grants to conduct basic reparation work, and to prevent further damage to cultural heritage.


Partners

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)

Disaster risk management is a priority for the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), one of UNESCO’s institutional partners and an Advisory Body to the World Heritage Convention.

International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

The International Council on Museums and Sites (ICOMOS) is another institutional partner of UNESCO and an Advisory Body to the World Heritage Convention. Its International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness (ICORP) works specifically on disaster risk reduction for built cultural heritage

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Disaster Risk Reduction for World Heritage is one of the themes IUCN addresses through its work, as an Advisory Body to the World Heritage Convention and a member of the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR). DRR work in IUCN is part of its Ecosystem Management thematic area.

Ritsumeikan University Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage (D-MUCH)

The Institute of Disaster Mitigation for Urban Cultural Heritage, Ritsumeikan University, (D-MUCH), was named UNESCO Chair in 2006 and implements a yearly international training programme on disaster mitigation for cultural heritage. The World Heritage Centre contributes regularly to this programme, which has benefited hundreds of site managers over the past years, including many from World Heritage properties. 

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)

UNESCO works with UNISDR to ensure the integration of culture and heritage into international policies on DRR. Particular efforts have been made to include a concern for cultural heritage in the context of the UNISDR-led Campaign “Make My City Resilient”, in cooperation with ICOMOS.

Events (22)
Reducing Risks to Collections 2007
18 Jun 2007 - 6 Jul 2007
Dates
Date Start: Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Decisions / Resolutions (11)
Code: 38COM 7

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/7,
2. Recalling Decisions 35 COM 12B, 35 COM 12E and 37 COM 7C adopted at its 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,

Issues emerging from the 2014 state of conservation reports

3. Noting with regret that issues related to Management Plan / System remain a serious cause for concern, requests all States Parties to ensure that all World Heritage properties are managed in such a manner that their Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is not put at risk and, whenever necessary, develop/update and fully implement Management Plans or Systems;
4. Taking note of the benefits to States Parties of systematically utilizing Heritage and Environmental Impact Assessments in the review of development projects, recommends that States Parties use these tools in assessing projects before they reach a point where the World Heritage reactive monitoring process comes into play;
5. Also noting that tourism development in and around World Heritage properties is a key issue for their management, strongly encourages States Parties to ensure sustainable planning and management of tourism at World Heritage properties and to contribute to the implementation of the World Heritage Centre’s World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme;
6. Reiterating its utmost concern about the continued impacts on World Heritage properties due to the rising pressure from poaching, particularly of elephant, rhinoceros, and valuable timber species, linked to a growing illicit trade, and the increasing involvement of organized crime in this lucrative business, reiterates its request to the World Heritage Centre and IUCN to strengthen their cooperation with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to assist States Parties to implement the measures taken by the 16th Conference of the Parties of the CITES, and urges States Parties to ensure strong international collaboration and coordination to control the illicit trade in flora and fauna and their products;
7. Takes note with concern of the continuing threat posed to World Heritage properties by disasters and conflicts, of the widespread lack of adequate preparedness, and of the need to integrate a concern for heritage within international policies and programmes for disaster risk reduction, and calls on States Parties to ensure that their delegations to the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), due to take place in March 2015 in Sendai (Japan), are sensitized to this question and promote heritage as an essential consideration in disaster risk reduction;
8. Also requests that States Parties with an interest in the promotion of capacity building on the issues of management, impact assessments, disaster risk management, sustainable tourism management, and poaching and wildlife crimes to liaise with the Advisory Bodies, World Heritage Centre, and UNESCO Category 2 Centres, and support regional or international courses, workshops, and other capacity building activities to improve the capacity of States Parties and site managers to develop and implement these important planning instruments;

Updates on previously reported issues

9. Welcomes the commitment made by TOTAL in June 2013 not to explore or exploit oil or gas inside sites inscribed on the World Heritage List as well as the new policy on World Heritage Sites adopted by the investment bank HSBC not to knowingly provide financial services to support projects which threaten the special characteristics of World Heritage properties and, also taking note of the discussions held between the World Heritage Centre, IUCN and International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), calls on other companies in extractive industries and investment banks to follow these examples to further extend the “No go” commitment;
10. Also welcomes the progress in the dialogue between the World Heritage Centre, the Advisory Bodies and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and encourages the development of a mechanism that would allow to identify potential impacts of future Olympic Games on World Heritage properties early on in the process of attributing the Games in order to ensure that these impacts can be avoided or adequately mitigated by the organizing country;

Strategic issues related to the state of conservation of World Heritage properties

11. Also recalling that States Parties concerned shall submit by 1 February to the Committee through the Secretariat, their reports on the state of conservation of specific properties (Paragraph 169 of the Operational Guidelines ),
12. Acknowledging that the established minimum two-year cycle for the examination of state of conservation reports for individual properties (except for cases of utmost urgency and for properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger), associated to a postponed deadline for the submission of the States Parties’ reports would provide an opportunity for improved dialogue between the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, decides that States Parties concerned shall submit their state of conservation reports to the World Heritage Centre by 1 December of the year preceding the examination of the property by the World Heritage Committee, with immediate effect, except for properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and for cases of utmost urgency, and further requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to draft a proposal in view of including this new statutory deadline in the Operational Guidelines , for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session, in 2015;
13. Reminds States Parties of the importance of submitting their state of conservation reports to the World Heritage Centre in one of the working languages of the World Heritage Convention, English or French;
14. Notes with appreciation the high number of States Parties which have authorized the public upload of their state of conservation reports, facilitating their consultation by all stakeholders of the Convention and contributing to an improved transparency of the reactive monitoring process, and reiterates its encouragement to all States Parties to continue do so in the future.

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Code: 37COM 7C

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7C,

2.  Recalling Decisions 35 COM 7C and 36 COM 7C , adopted at its 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) sessions respectively,

3.  Expresses its appreciation to the Flemish Government for its support in establishing the online “State of Conservation Information System of World Heritage properties”;

4.  Welcomes the contribution of the Information System to the improved transparency of World Heritage Reactive Monitoring and informed decision-making processes; 

5.  Encourages States Parties to make public the reports submitted on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties in order to facilitate their consultation by all stakeholders and contribute to an improved transparency of the reactive monitoring process and, in this case, requests the World Heritage Centre to make them publicly accessible through the State of Conservation Information System;

6.  Also encourages the World Heritage Centre to continue exploring opportunities to link the Information System to other existing relevant databases as part of a wider Information and knowledge management system, in order to improve the synergies between the World Heritage Convention and other international conventions or programmes;

7.  Calls upon all States Parties to the Convention to support the activities proposed to contribute towards the improvement of the Information System and its access for the international community. 

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Code: 36COM 7C

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Having examined document WHC-12/36.COM/7C,

2.Recalling Decisions 35 COM 7C and 35 COM 12E adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

Significant factors negatively impacting the Outstanding Universal Value

3.Takes note of the statistical analysis and encourages the World Heritage Centre to continue with the production of such informative data, including regional analyses;

Recurrent conservation issues

4.Also takes note of the completion of the independent review process on extractive industries and World Heritage properties as a contribution to the Policy Guidelines development and invites the World Heritage Centre to disseminate this review as widely as possible;

Disaster risk reduction

5.Requests States Parties to make every endeavor to take into consideration disaster risks, including from human-induced hazards, in the management plans and systems for the World Heritage properties located in their territories;  

6.Also requests the World Heritage Centre, with the support of the Advisory Bodies, to continue working with global and regional institutions involved in disaster risk management, with an aim to mainstream a concern for heritage within their policies and programmes as well as in UN-led processes such as the Post-Disaster-Needs-Assessment (PDNA);

Follow-up to decisions 35 COM 7C and 35 COM 12E

7.Further takes note of the information provided regarding the recognition for the protectors of World Heritage properties in conflict and post-conflict zones, including through the use of blue/green berets or other appropriate insignia;

8.Takes note furthermore of the correspondence process in place to increase dialogue between the States Parties, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies regarding conservation issues at World Heritage properties;

9.Thanks the Government of Flanders for its support to the establishment of a “state of conservation information system” hosted on the World Heritage Centre’s website and further requests the World Heritage Centre to present a progress report on the database and its access online, during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2013;

Other conservation issues not reported on at the 36th session under Items 7A and 7B

10.  Expresses its concern with regard to the state of conservation of World Heritage property of “Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annuziata” and urges the State Party of Italy to intensify its efforts towards implementing the Committee’s decision taken at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011);

11.  Extends its sympathy to the victims of the earthquake in northern Italy; also encourages the State Party of Italy to continue its important efforts for the assessment of the damage occurred and for the planning and implementation of the necessary remedial measures, including with a view to strengthening the overall resilience of the three properties in the future against all possible hazards; and requests furthermore the State Party of Italy to provide to the World Heritage Centre updated information on the situation and to coordinate with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies possible initiatives for the recovery and restoration of the three affected properties;

12.   Finally requests the State Party of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to halt the proposed development of a golf resort at the World Heritage property “Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast” until its potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage property has been assessed.

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Code: 35COM 7C

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-11/35.COM/7C, WHC-11/35.COM/INF.7C and WHC-11/35.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7C, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3. Thanks the States Parties of Senegal and Australia for the organization of the Expert meeting on the global state of conservation challenges for World Heritage properties (Dakar, Senegal, 13-15 April 2011);

4. Endorses the recommendations of the Expert meeting on the global state of conservation challenges for World Heritage properties presented in Document WHC-11/35.COM/INF.7C and invites States Parties to the Convention, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop plans to implement them, and identify the required resources;

5. Considering the need for more systematic monitoring of threats, calls upon the States Parties to the Convention to support the establishment of a comprehensive "state of conservation information system" to support analytical studies and assist all stakeholders in site-management, with the target to make this system available, on the World Heritage Centre's website, before the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in 2013;

6. Requests the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, to prepare clear modalities and guidance for the drafting and adoption of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012;

7. Decides to amend paragraph 183 of the Operational Guidelines to read: "When considering the inscription of a property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Committee shall develop, and adopt, as far as possible, in consultation with the State Party concerned, a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and a programme for corrective measures";

8. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to prepare a progress report on the issues mentioned above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

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Code: 35COM 12E

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-11/35.COM/INF.7C,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 10 adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008), Decision 33 COM 14A.2 adopted at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009), 34 COM 12 adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) and Resolution 17 GA 9 adopted at the 17th General Assembly of States Parties (UNESCO Headquarters, 2009),

3. Expresses its appreciation to the States Parties of Australia and Senegal and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre for organising the expert meeting on global state of conservation challenges of World Heritage properties (Dakar, Senegal, 13-15 April 2011);

4. Notes the report provided by the participants at the above-mentioned expert meeting;

5. Invites contributions of relevant expertise and financial resources to assist States Parties implement decisions on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties;

6. Reiterates that nominations of properties for inscription on the World Heritage List must demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value in line with the criteria for inscription and comply with integrity/authenticity, protection and management requirements, as set out in the Operational Guidelines;

7. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop guidance, for consideration at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee, to clarify:

a) The uses, limits and documentation requirements for traditional management (paragraphs 108 and following),

b) The need for Environmental Impact Assessments/Heritage Impact Assessments of potential developments' impact on Outstanding Universal Value, the range of proposed activities with a likely impact on Outstanding Universal Value to be reported on and the documentation required by the World Heritage Centre (Paragraph 172), and

c) Buffer zones or other protection mechanisms, noting the recommendations contained in document WHC-08/32.COM/7.1;

8. Requests that aspects concerning partnerships should be dealt with after the report of the external auditor on PACT at the 18th General Assembly of States Parties;

9. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop options to strengthen and improve the state of conservation reporting process, in particular  to increase dialogue with States Parties about World Heritage properties facing challenges;

10. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to formally notify States Parties of the state of conservation reports on World Heritage properties on their territory which will be the subject of examination by the Committee at the session indicated;

11. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to report at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee on possible ways to encourage United Nations recognition for the protectors of World Heritage properties in conflict and post conflict zones, including through the use of blue/green berets or other appropriate insignia, and reminds States Parties to include details of Disaster Risk Reduction/Emergency Planning arrangements in their nomination dossiers and management plans;

12. Further requests the World Heritage Centre, in collaboration with the Advisory Bodies, in addition to the presentation of state of conservation reports on individual properties, to prepare a thematic report on significant global and regional factors negatively impacting the Outstanding Universal Value of the properties, grouped according to the five categories of factors affecting the Outstanding Universal Value identified in the Periodic Report questionnaire, Section II, to ensure a greater coherence in the decision making on individual sites;

13. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to provide, in the state of conservation reports on individual properties, a link to an integrated online database compiling all relevant background information concerning the property (previous state of conservation reports and Committee decisions, desired state of conservation, corrective measures, International Assistance requests, etc.) necessary for well-informed decision-making, to be hosted on the World Heritage Centre's website;

14. Also requests the Advisory Bodies to develop a database of existing guidance on key factors negatively impacting on the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties and tools for best management practice;

15. Recalling that being a signatory to the World Heritage Convention entails certain responsibilities, including a requirement to follow the Operational Guidelines, management of World Heritage properties according to the highest international standards, promotion of good governance and allocation of adequate funding for the protection of World Heritage properties, encourages States Parties to:

a) Develop adequate legislative frameworks to ensure compliance with the Operational Guidelines and set up a collaborative framework between agencies for the conservation of properties, including agencies in charge of the follow up of other conventions and international agreements,

b) Source assistance and support beyond what is available under the UNESCO World Heritage Fund, noting that tools, methodology and guidance are available both internationally and nationally from the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre and additional support should be sought from other donors, NGOs and international organizations,

c) Be proactive in relation to development and conservation of World Heritage properties by conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) at the time of nomination to anticipate the impact of any potential development on the Outstanding Universal Value,

d) Ensure that EIA/HIA are conducted for development projects which could affect properties and that these specifically assess the impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of properties,

e) Involve indigenous peoples and local communities in decision making, monitoring and evaluation of the state of conservation of the properties and their Outstanding Universal Value and link the direct community benefits to protection outcomes,

f) Respect the rights of indigenous peoples when nominating, managing and reporting on World Heritage sites in indigenous peoples' territories;

g) Establish and promote horizontal cooperation and understanding among various institutions that have an impact on cultural and natural heritage, also including governmental institutions responsible for UNESCO programmes implementation on national level, economy, finance, regional development/ planning, tourism, social welfare as well as local authorities,

h) Follow the Recommendation concerning the Protection, at National Level, of the Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted simultaneously with the World Heritage Convention, by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.

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Code: 34COM 7.3

The World Heritage Committee,

 1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7.3,

2. Recalling Decisions 28 COM 10.B, 31 COM 7.2 and 33 COM 7C adopted at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004), 31st (Christchurch, 2007) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively,

3. Takes note with satisfaction, of the progress made in the implementation of the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage Properties, since its adoption in 2007;

4. Welcomes the Resource Manual on 'Managing Disaster Risks for World Heritage' and "The Olympia Protocol for International Cooperation: Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage Properties" as appropriate methodological tools for the implementation of the above-mentioned Strategy, and encourages States Parties to use them as a basis for developing cooperation among them and with other partners if necessary;

5. Also welcomes the proposed twinning arrangements among World Heritage properties to promote cooperation on Disaster Risk Reduction and develop pilot projects that could serve as best practices, and also encourages States Parties to further develop similar mechanisms among them;

6. Further encourages the States Parties to examine and promote the actions proposed as a result of the Acre Workshop of November 2009 and requests the World Heritage Centre, Advisory Bodies and States Parties to implement them within the limits of their possibilities;

7. Encourages furthermore the States Parties, that have not already done so, to reply to the questionnaire on disaster risk, and further requests the World Heritage Centre to submit a report on the progress made in the implementation of the above-mentioned actions for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

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Code: 34COM 7C

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7C,

2. Recalling Decisions 32 COM 7B.129 and 33 COM 7C, adopted at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 33rd (Seville, 2009) sessions respectively,

3. Welcomes the analytical summary of the perceived trends, changes and threats to the state of conservation of World Heritage properties over the past five years (2005-2009), as the basis for further reflection and more extensive analysis of this information;

4. Considers that this work highlights the need for more systematic monitoring of threats and of how to identify and react to emerging trends;

5. Suggests that data on the emergence of trends and on the underlying reasons for the emergence of trends could be helpful to States Parties, to the World Heritage Centre and to the Advisory Bodies;

6. Notes that the availability and application of satellite imagery and other remote sensing techniques are continually improving, and also notes that such techniques can provide evidence over time to determine whether some impacts on World Heritage values continue to occur or are being addressed;

7. Requests that the Advisory Bodies, and in particular IUCN, work with the World Heritage Centre, the UNESCO Science Sector, and relevant remote sensing agencies, to examine the feasibility of using remote sensing to help assess the potential contribution that it could make to the monitoring of certain threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of properties;

8. Given the percentage of threats related to development and infrastructure projects and to high-rise buildings, stresses the need for structured heritage impact assessments of major projects to be carried out at the earliest opportunity in order to assess the impact of potential projects on the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties;

9. Recalls the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and that prompt information on potential development projects and their review for impact on Outstanding Universal Value is a key tool for ensuring the effective conservation of World Heritage properties and the credibility of the Convention;

10. Taking into account the information provided in the introduction of Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B and specifically the impact of natural disasters affecting World Heritage properties, notes the progress made in the implementation of the Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties as indicated in Document WHC-10/34.COM/7.3, as well as the newly published Resource Manual on this subject;

11. Also notes that the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies have considered the approaches for the selection of properties for state of conservation reports and processes for preparing Desired State of Conservation Statements for the removal of properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger and further notes that these will be subject to a further review at the next World Heritage Centre/Advisory Bodies meeting in September 2010;

12. Acknowledges the inclusion of links to illustrative material in the state of conservation reports which provide information on potential visual impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of a property and encourages the States Parties to share their experiences concerning visual impact studies and simulations by providing to the Word Heritage Centre links to relevant information to be made available through the web-page;

13. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to report back on criteria, thresholds and processes relevant to the initiation of state of conservation reports, the feasibility of improved utilization of remote sensing, and the preparation and review of Desired State of Conservation Statements for the removal of properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 35th session in 2011.

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Code: 32COM 7B.129

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined documents WHC-08/32.COM/7B, WHC-08/32.COM7B.Add and WHC-08/32.COM7B.Add2,

2. Recognizing that the state of conservation reports are an important tool for sustaining the World Heritage properties; and

3. Noting the discussion that took place at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee;

4. Requests the World Heritage Centre to:

a) prepare, after consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, an analytical summary of the state of conservation of the World Heritage discussed at the 32nd session (Québec City, 2008) identifying trends, by 1st November 2008, for distribution to the Committee members and discussion at the 33rd session in 2009;

b) identify issues emanating from the analytical summary, in consultation with the Advisory Bodies, to be discussed on relevant agenda items of the Committee, including the Reinforced Monitoring mechanism;

c) prepare a lexicon of terms and recommendations for their consistent application in state of conservation reports;

d) provide, where available, a printed Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, for properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger and those discussed for in-Danger listing;

e) add a link to illustrative material and relevant statements of Outstanding Universal Value, and attribute information to source and date;

5. Also requests the World Heritage Centre to identify a mechanism for consultation with States Parties during the development of the State of Conservation reports to ensure their accuracy.

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Code: 31COM 7.1

  The World Heritage Committee,

  1.  Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7.1,
  2.  Recalling Decision 30 COM 7.1 adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),
  3.  Thanks the Government of the Netherlands for having funded the development of the policy document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties, including a meeting of the Working Group of Experts, (5 - 6 February 2007 at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris), and also thanks the experts and representatives of organizations who contributed to the meeting;
  4.  Endorses the "Policy Document on the Impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage Properties" as described in Document WHC-07/31.COM/7.1, and decides to authorize the Chairperson of the Committee to vet the Policy Document, incorporating views expressed at the 31st session, and, as appropriate, to consult Committee members by email and other means;
  5.  Decides to transmit the revised Policy Document for discussion and adoption at the 16th General Assembly of States Parties in 2007;
  6.  Recommends that the Policy Document be read in conjunction with the report on "Predicting and managing the impacts of Climate Change on World Heritage" and the "Strategy to assist States Parties to implement appropriate management responses" - endorsed by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) - together with other relevant conventions such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification, and other UNESCO initiatives, and further thanks the Government of Spain for supporting their publication as World Heritage Paper No. 22;
  7. Urges the World Heritage community to integrate actions pertaining to climate change in risk preparedness policies and action plans, making use thereby of the Policy Document and the Strategy for Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties, so as to protect their outstanding universal value, authenticity and/or integrity.
  8.  Also urges States Parties to participate in the United Nations Climate Change conferences with a view to achieving a comprehensive post-Kyoto agreement, and to fund and support the research needs as identified in Annex 1 of the Policy Document;
  9.   Encourages the World Heritage Centre to sensitize States Parties, as appropriate, to the need to establish inter-disciplinary mechanisms to deal with policy and governance issues relating to the effect of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  10.   Recommends that the World Heritage Centre strengthen its relations with all organizations working on climate change, particularly with the UNFCCC and IPCC secretariats, and specifically with regard to the effect of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  11.  Welcomes the excellent publication on "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage" and thanks the United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Government of the United Kingdom for having supported its production;
  12.   Encourages UNESCO and the Advisory Bodies to disseminate widely the Policy Document, and other related publications through appropriate means to the World Heritage community and the broader public, and promote their application;
  13.   Adopts the specific research priorities indicated in the Policy Document and recommends to the UNESCO Forum - Universities and Heritage to prioritize these subjects and to open discussions on the effects of climate change on World Heritage properties;
  14.   Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop in consultation with States Parties criteria for the inclusion of those properties which are most threatened by climate change on the List of World Heritage in Danger, for use in prioritizing vulnerability assessment, mitigation and adaptation activities;
  15.  Decides, for future sessions of the World Heritage Committee, to add to the working document on State of Conservation reporting, a section on those properties most affected by climate change;
  16.  Commends the Government of New Zealand for making the 31st session "carbon neutral" and adopts a carbon neutral policy for all future sessions, to the extent feasible.

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Code: 31COM 7.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 30 COM 7.2, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),
  3. Takes note of the important outcome of the Davos International Conference on Disaster Reduction as reflected in its final Declaration, on the role of heritage within disaster risk reduction;
  4. Approves the revised Strategy for Risk Reduction at World Heritage Properties with its prioritized list of actions;
  5. Encourages States Parties, the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre to implement the Strategy for Risk Reduction at World Heritage properties within their spheres of activities;
  6. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to integrate policies and strategies established by the World Heritage Committee on the issue of climate change in the implementation of the strategy  for risk reduction at World Heritage properties;
  7. Recommends that a risk management component be incorporated in the Management Plan for World Heritage properties in accordance with Paragraph 118 of the Operational Guidelines.

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Code: 30COM 7.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.2,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.b,

3. Takes note of, and endorses the objectives of the Strategy for Reducing Risks from Disasters at World Heritage properties, and requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to work together, along with other UNESCO mechanisms, to prioritise the proposed actions contained in the Strategy;

4. Requests the World Heritage Centre to disseminate it widely through its web-site and other appropriate means;

5. Calls upon States Parties to the Convention and various global actors for Disaster Reduction to give more consideration to the impacts of disasters on cultural and natural heritage when designing their strategic goals and plans;

6. Further encourages States Parties to the Convention, in particular, to integrate concern for World Heritage into wider national disaster reduction plans and documentation programmes, and to develop Management Plans that include a risk-analysis and management component for World Heritage properties located in their territories;

7. Requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to develop a user-friendly resource material to build-capacity on disaster reduction at World Heritage properties as well as a training module to test it at pilot sites within disaster-prone regions;

8. Also requests the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to prepare a revised draft format for Emergency Assistance requests including the requirement to clarify what is the specific serious threat/danger affecting the property, how it might affect its overall outstanding universal value, and how the proposed activity intends to mitigate/prevent it, and submit it to the Committee for examination at its 31st session in 2007;

9. Further requests the Advisory Bodies to take into account the policies proposed in Point III of the working Document WHC-06/30.COM/7.2 in the elaboration of the criteria for evaluation of International Assistance requests, to be included to the Operational Guidelines in its Annex 9;

10. Invites the international donor community to support the implementation of the Strategy in developing countries within disaster-prone areas as a priority;

11. Decides to allocate the amount of USD 25,000 under the World Heritage Fund to contribute to the development and dissemination of a user-friendly resource material to build capacity on disaster reduction at World Heritage properties.

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