Ngorongoro: UNESCO has never at any time asked for the displacement of the Maasai people
Further to recent reports and inquiries, regarding the displacement of the Maasai people in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area World Heritage property, UNESCO wishes to recall that neither the World Heritage Committee – the intergovernmental body of 21 elected States governing the Convention – nor UNESCO Secretariat have at any time asked for the displacement of the Maasai people.
UNESCO appreciates the importance of meeting the development needs of local communities. In this regard, it is essential to recall the World Heritage Committee Decision 44 COM 7B.171 adopted in July 2021, which stated that “there is the need for an equitably governed consultative process to identify long term sustainable interdisciplinary solutions (…) with participation of all rightsholders and stakeholders, consistent with international norms and the policies of the Convention"
The Organization fully recognizes that the challenges faced by the local communities and the Maasai people living within the Ngorongoro World Heritage property boundaries are long-standing and date back long before the inscription of Ngorongoro Conservation Area onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. As early as 1996, the General Management Plan (GMP), prepared by the United Republic of Tanzania, proposed a Multiple Land Use Model (MLUM) to address the multiple objectives of the human development of the local residents, the conservation of the natural heritage values, and tourism.
UNESCO remains ready to support the United Republic of Tanzania and site management authorities to find sustainable solutions:
- UNESCO reiterates its readiness to assist in the review of the MLUM and to provide any other technical assistance to the United Republic of Tanzania for the management of the property and to help determine the way forward.
- UNESCO reaffirms its proposal to dispatch an advisory mission to support the ongoing dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and rightsholders.
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
- Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.39, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
- Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to combat wildlife poaching, the establishment and maintenance of a digital database for cultural and archaeological sites and attributes, continued engagement with local communities and support for alternative livelihoods, and the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation unit in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to focus on ensuring compliance of impact assessment processes;
- Also welcomes the development of the work plan for the implementation of the 2017 and 2019 mission recommendations and previous Committee Decisions, but regrets that activities are only partially represented and that they lack detail on their implementation status, therefore requests the State Party to revise the work plan to include all recommendations of previous missions and keep the World Heritage Centre informed of its progress with implementation;
- Also requests the State Party to provide information on the spread of invasive species, the status of agricultural activities in the property and on its efforts to address these threats to the property, including through stakeholder awareness-raising;
- Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the feasibility study for the southern bypass route including maps of the considered route options,
- Notes the current suspension of the upgrading of the Lodoare Gate to Golini main road through the property and also reiterates its request to the State Party to fully implement the 2017 mission recommendations concerning the road and submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, the action plan to manage road use, and the results of archaeological investigations and baseline ecological and environmental data before starting the upgrading works;
- Notes with concern the results of the ICOMOS/ICCROM technical review concluding that the Laetoli Hominin Footprints Museum and proposed new science/education centre would impact adversely on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), further requests the State Party to define clearer conservation approaches for the footprint site and for the overall archaeological landscape before any decisions are made on presentation of the footprints or a museum building, and requests furthermore that an update be provided on progress made;
- Requests moreover the State Party to ensure the General Management Plan (GMP) for the property is finalized in consultation with, and with the free prior and informed consent as appropriate of local stakeholders and rightsholders, and also reiterates its requests to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the draft GMP for review by the Advisory Bodies, including:
- A Cultural Heritage Conservation Strategy, in particular for the palaeo-anthropological sites, including providing human and financial resources for this process,
- Reconsideration of the current compartmentalized approach to the governance of the property to ensure that the natural and cultural attributes of the property will be managed, protected and presented in an integrated approach, with a framework for stakeholder engagement,
- An Interpretation Strategy for the property with a clear vision to ensure the protection of the OUV, integrity and authenticity of the property and that contributes to conservation activity,
- Integrated policies and guidelines on tourism carrying capacity,
- Specific monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with the conclusions and mitigation measures of validated impact assessment studies,
- Mechanisms for traffic monitoring, including regulation of speed and driving behaviour,
- The proposed Multiple Land Use Model (MLUM) Review;
- Reiterates its concern over the continued conflicts with the communities living in the property, including the challenges resulting from the significant increase in the number of people residing in the property since its inscription, and considers that there is the need for an equitably governed consultative process to identify long term sustainable interdisciplinary solutions to address these issues, with participation of all rightsholders and stakeholders, consistent with international norms and the policies of the Convention;
- Recommends that the State Party invite an Advisory mission by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to the property to consider, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders and rightsholders, the proposed review of the MLUM, as well as the voluntary resettlement scheme, and the zonation of the property, and consider whether the current approaches are sufficient to address these crucial issues and to provide advice on the way forward;
- Also recalling that the 2019 mission noted concerns for the cumulative and gradual intensification of threats to the OUV of the property, further reiterates its request to the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to evaluate the current and future impacts of developments across all sectors in the region, including the property and the Serengeti ecosystem so that the findings can inform management, and submit the SEA to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
- Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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.