Inter-Convention synergy in action
The first joint STAB/ICOMOS Advisory Mission to a World Heritage property was carried out within the framework of the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage.
The World Heritage property "Ancient City of Nessebar" (Bulgaria) hosted an Advisory Mission invited by the Bulgarian authorities and carried out jointly by experts of the UNESCO Scientific and Technical Advisory Body (STAB) to the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and ICOMOS International (Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee). The mission experts assessed the state of conservation of the property, including the underwater archaeological remains, and provided capacity building for Bulgarian experts in coastal management and in the preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage properties. The mission took place from 28 November to 3 December 2017.
The mission experts examined existing and proposed projects and developments within the boundaries of the Ancient City of Nessebar and its buffer zone, including in the territorial waters of the peninsula, and provided preliminary insights on the scope of analysis needed to assess their impacts.
The STAB experts conducted an underwater survey of archaeological remains and provided recommendations for additional research that may be needed to appraise the archaeological potential of the submerged setting of Nessebar and assess measures to be undertaken to minimize impacts on the submerged remains, in line with Article 5 of the 2001 Convention.
The state of conservation of the property will be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.73, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
- Acknowledges that some progress has been achieved by the State Party in implementing the recommendations of the Committee and the 2010, 2012 and 2015 missions, as well as the commitment demonstrated towards the protection the property and the collaborative dialogue established with ICOMOS;
- Welcomes that the reconstruction/enlargement plan of the existing fishing port “Severna Buna-Nessebar” was abandoned and requests the State Party to carry out a HIA for the modernization of the existing fishing port in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage cultural properties and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is made;
- Express its concern regarding proposed infrastructure projects, incompatible with the values, attributes and vulnerabilities of the property, as well as development approach based on mass tourism, which are representing potential threats to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
- Urges the State Party to halt any unsustainable form of development, such as to open the Nessebar Port Terminal for large ships, and also requests the State Party to recover the terminal area using careful and light intervention compatible with the World Heritage status of the property;
- Invites the State Party to devise a radically different strategy for the sustainable and compatible development of Nessebar that reduces development pressure, by relocating plans and projects for any cruise terminals, or tourist, commercial or fishing ports for large ships elsewhere along the coast outside the visibility area from Nessebar and to develop a sustainable mobility plan to ensure the smooth circulation of residents, visitors and goods;
- Also urges that the State Party introduce all relevant provisions regarding the World Heritage into national legislation, as well as develop and adopt an OUV-based policy, appropriate regulatory instruments and mechanisms to prevent, at the planning and programming stage, inappropriate developments, which could jeopardize the property’s OUV and could represent a potential danger, in conformity with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines;
- Also invites the State Party to strengthen the property’s management system, address and resolve weaknesses in management, by reinforcing existing institutional framework and establishing an all relevant high-level inter-ministerial committee, decision-making bodies and working groups that develop and adopt a vision for the future of the property, including strategic programme for its implementation;
- Requests the State Party to adopt all relevant measures and plans (Management plan, Master Plan and Conservation Plan), as well as to enforce the protection regimes and the conservation prescriptions, to support the appropriate implementation of its decisions in order to prevent any threats to its OUV;
- Also requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation and ascertain the progress made by the State Party ;
- Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, 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 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering, in case of confirmation of the ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger