1.         Danube Delta (Romania) (N 588)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (vii)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/588/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-1991)
Total amount approved: USD 11,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/588/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Mining pollution (accidental cyanide pollution); 

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/588/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

UNESCO and IUCN have been informed of a Ukrainian navigation project on the Bystroe Canal located within the UNESCO Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, on the Ukrainian side of the border.  Although the Canal does not pass through the Romanian side (which is a World Heritage property), likely downstream impacts are projected.  Works on the deep-water canal connecting the river Danube with the Black Sea began in 2004 with the first phase having been completed in September 2004, subsequent phases are scheduled for completion in 2008.  The canal is being promoted as an alternative navigable route to the Sulina Canal built over 100 years ago on Romanian territory.  However, it cuts through the core zone of the MAB-Reserve and the Kyliiske Mouth, a Ramsar site. 

Preliminary information received so far indicates threats and potential impacts on ecosystem, habitat and species within the Danube Delta.  Experts warned that among all the alternative routes analyzed for the projected deepwater canal, the Bystroe version “represented the worst alternative”.  The acceleration of water flow in the canal is projected to drain water out of the Delta, drastically reducing its water level, intensifying evaporation and wreaking havoc within the marshland habitat.  Potential other effects include oil and noise pollution on the waterways produced by ships using the canal. 

A number of conferences and meetings have already taken place seeking to redress this issue and reducing tensions between the two States Parties.  On 21 September 2004 at the initiative of the Romanian authorities, an official consultation was held at the Geneva United Nations Environemtal Programme Office with the representatives of the international programmes and agreements (Ramsar Convention, Bern Convention, IUCN, UNESCO-MAB etc.) as well as Ukraine and Romania.  A follow-up meeting was held at the Bureau of the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme at its 18th session (UNESCO, 25-29 October 2004) which reviewed the situation with regard to the transboundary Biosphere Reserve (SC-04/CONF.204/INF.5).  From 14-16 March 2005, a preparatory meeting for the International Scientific Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Danube Delta” took place in Kiev, Ukraine.  The subsequent conference is scheduled to be held in May 2005 in Odessa (Ukraine) to provide a framework for the widening debate and to address the sustainable development of the Danube Delta in a wider perspective.

The two States Parties concerned are keen on resolving this issue through a series of consultative meetings and workshops using a number of available international agreements and conventions such as the ESPOO, Bern, and RAMSAR conventions to which both are signatories, as well as UNESCO’s MAB Programme.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 29 COM 7B.18

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev;

2. Recalling its Decision 24 COM I.21 adopted at its 24th session (Cairns, 2000);

3. Notes with concern the information on the Bystroe Canal project located in the Ukrainian part of the transboundary UNESCO Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (Romania/Ukraine) and its potential impact for the Danube Delta ecosystem, and the World Heritage property of the Danube Delta (Romania);

4. Requests the authorities of Ukraine to fully respect the Convention, in particular Article 6.3 and not to take any action to threaten the values and integrity of a property located on the territory of another State Party to this Convention;

5. Further requests both States Parties of Romania and Ukraine to provide to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2006, an updated report on the existing navigable canal systems and proposed projects in Danube Delta, covering the territory of both States Parties and dealing with the totality of the threats as well as on transboundary collaboration regarding the conservation of the property, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).