Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1978
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/18/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 93,300
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amount provided to the property: USD 800,000 for the « Conservation Action Plan for Lalibela » -Phase 1 and Phase 2 (Norwegian Funds-in-Trust).
Previous monitoring missions
2004, 2005, 2008, 2009: World Heritage Centre follow-up missions; 2006,: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM reactive monitoring mission; 2007, 2008: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission;
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
a) Lack of clearly defined boundaries for the property and the buffer zone;
b) Impact of the four temporary shelters constructed in 2008;
c) Absence of a Management Plan for the property;
d) Insufficient urban and architectural regulations;
e) Urban development and encroachment around the property;
f) Impact of rainwater and humidity;
g) Impact of earthquakes;
h) Geological and architectural characteristics of the property.
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/18/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012
On 1 February 2012, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela. The report addresses most requests made by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 34 COM 7B.44, but fails to provide details of the type and frequency of the monitoring arrangements for the temporary shelters or the development plan of Lalibela area. The report submitted contains detailed maps of the property boundaries and suggested buffer zone.
a) Monitoring arrangements for the temporary shelters
The State Party reports that following the completion of the temporary shelters in 2008, experts of the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ARCCH) have established regular inspection procedures. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note with concern that details with regard to the type and frequency of these monitoring arrangements were not provided, and reiterate the importance of well-defined processes and indicators for the monitoring. These are particularly important for Aba Libanos Church, where the shelter was constructed against the advice of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in a location at risk of landslides, potentially aggravated by the shelter’s weight.
b) Urban encroachment and site management
Following the State Party’s report, urban encroachment was identified as the key problem in the management of the property. The Management Plan drafted is the product of successive stakeholder workshops and is described as currently in its consultation phase. Within this framework a resettlement action plan was developed, according to which some households were relocated from the property to a newly designated settlement zone. The emptied traditional Tukuls (vernacular round houses) are now being refurbished to develop them as additional tourist attractions.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the Committee regrets that neither the completed development plan for Lalibela area nor the draft Management Plan have been submitted. They further note the reported resettlement of inhabitants of traditional Tukul structures in the property, and consider that the development of the emptied historic Tukuls as tourism attractions has the potential to impact on the association between the churches and the traditional community. Resettlement should therefore be preceded by a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties.
c) Pilot project at Gabriel Rufael Church
Following the completion of technical studies funded by UNESCO/ Norway funds-in-trust of the Gabriel Rufael Church and based on archival research, photogrammetric surveys, GIS, and laser scanning of all the churches, the State Party reports that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been drawn up with the World Monuments Fund, which will allow them to undertake training activities. In addition, the Norway-funded project has started preparations of the technical documents for the conservation and consolidation works. Information has been received by the World Heritage Centre that these works could be funded jointly through the US Ambassador’s fund and the World Monuments Fund.
d) World Bank Tourism Development Project
The State Party reports that the World Bank’s tourism development project is implemented at Lalibela in four components: destination development, capacity building, site promotion, and community involvement. At present the components destination development and site promotion are undertaken with a focus on training in handicraft, waste management, and access roads.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies acknowledge the submission of detailed maps for the property boundaries and suggested buffer zone. However, they note that the development plan, draft site Management Plan, resettlement action plan as well as further details on the World Bank Tourism Project and the monitoring type and frequency for the temporary shelters were not submitted. All these documents should be made available for review.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies further recommend that well-defined processes and indicators need to be developed for the monitoring of the temporary shelters, including their micro-climate effects. Furthermore, any planned demographic or other changes meant to strengthen tourist-targeted services in the property or its immediate surroundings should be preceded by a HIA.
Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.42
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B,
2. Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.44, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),
3. Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party, notably the development of maps of the property’s boundaries and suggested buffer zone, and requests the State Party to submit the finalized maps in the context of the retrospective inventory and plans of the suggested buffer zone as a minor modification;
4. Encourages the State Party to finalize the consultation process for the draft Management Plan for the property, and also requests the State Party to submit the draft Management Plan, including the resettlement action plan and the development plan for Lalibela area for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
5. Reiterates its request to the State Party to:
a) Submit details of the type and frequency of monitoring arrangements for all temporary shelters,
b) Regularly provide information about the World Bank Tourism Development Project that is being implemented at the property,
c) Pursue its efforts to implement the pilot preservation project at Gabriel Rufael Church in cooperation with the World Monuments Fund;
6. Further requests the State Party to conduct a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidelines on Heritage Impact Assessments for World Heritage cultural properties, to evaluate the potential impact of any planned demographic or other changes to strengthen tourist-targeted services in the property or immediate surroundings on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
7. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2014, 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 38th session in 2014.
Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8E
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E,
2. Congratulates States Parties for the excellent work accomplished in the elaboration of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in their territories;
3. Adopts the retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value, as presented in the Annex of Document WHC-12/36.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:
4. Decides that retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value for World Heritage properties in Danger will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies in priority;
5. Further decides that, considering the high number of retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value to be examined, the order in which they will be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies will follow the Second Cycle of Periodic Reporting, namely: