1.         Galápagos Islands (Ecuador) (N 1bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(ix)(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/1/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1996)
Total amount approved: USD 405,350
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

June 1996: fact-finding mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The Committee, at its twentieth session (Merida, 1996), noted the findings of a mission to Galapagos, led by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, during 1-11 June, 1996. While recognizing considerable efforts made, the Committee concluded that serious problems still prevailed and immediate remedial actions were essential to safeguard the World Heritage values of Galapagos National Park and the surrounding marine areas. The Committee noted that the "special Galapagos legislation", a necessary tool for the protection of the site, had not yet been adopted.

The State Party informed the Committee of the fact that the President of Ecuador had set up a working group to prepare the 'special Galapagos legislation' and that the Government had established a Ministry of Environment to coordinate and advance policies for the preservation of the Galapagos Islands. The Delegate of Ecuador requested the twentieth session of the Committee not to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, following a lengthy debate, there was consensus among Committee Members that all requirements for including Galapagos in the List of World Heritage in Danger, as stipulated in paragraph 79 of the Operational Guidelines, were met. Hence, "The Committee decided to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger, effective 15 November 1997, unless a substantive written reply by Ecuador is received by 1 May 1997, and the Bureau, at its twenty-first session, determine that effective actions have been taken"(quoted from the report of the twentieth session of the Committee)

In her letter dated 13 March 1997, the new Minister for Environment, Dra. Flor de Maria Valverde B., a biologist who in the past had studied the fauna and the flora of Galapagos, has assured the Centre of her strong commitment to the conservation of Galapagos. The Minister is now directly responsible for the work of the Commission drafting the 'special Galapagos legislation', and has made representations to the Ecuadorean Congress to accelerate the Commission's work in consultation with non governmental ecological organizations and other sectors of the civil society. The work of the Commission is now coordinated by a well known conservationist and fisheries biologist, Dr. Gunther Reck, who is also a former Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station, located in Galapagos. Moreover, the Minister has indicated that she will present to the Centre, a detailed schedule for the completion of the process to befollowed by the Commission in the elaboration of the 'special Galapagos legislation'. Conclusions of the 68th Ordinary Meeting of the Executive Council of the Charles Darwin Foundation, held at UNESCO during 7-11 April 1997, confirmed the statements of the new Minister for the Environment described above and identified other positive developments; for example the status of the marine areas surrounding the Galapagos National Park has been upgraded from that of a Fisheries Reserve to that of a Biological Reserve thereby providing the Galapagos National Park Service legal authority to patrol the marine areas against illegal fishing.. Nevertheless, the Centre is awaiting receipt of the substantive written reply requested by the Committee by 1 May 1997.

The new Minister for Environment has noted the pre-occupation of the international community to urge the Committee to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. She has acknowledged that  the possibility of the inclusion of Galapagos in the List of World Heritage in Danger may be seen as an incentive to expedite her Government's efforts to draft the 'special Galapagos legislation'. She has however, pointed out that those efforts cannot be unduly hastened if the quality and the validity of the special Galapagos legislation under preparation are to be ensured.

A representative of Ecuador is expected to submit a state of conservation report on the Galapagos National Park at the World Heritage Workshop to be convened as part of the First Latin American Parks Congress, in Santa Marta, Columbia, during 21-28 May, 1997.

Action Required

The Bureau, based on additional information to be provided at its twenty-first session, may wish to determine whether effective actions to mitigate the threats facing the Galapagos National Park have been taken and decide whether or not to include the site in the List of World Heritage in Danger, as of 15 November 1997.


21st extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1997:
The Bureau took note of the detailed report (Document WHC-97/CONF.207/INF.6) provided by the Government of Ecuador by 15 November 1997 on the situation of the Galapagos Islands as well as further information by IUCN.

The Bureau recommended that the Committee adopt the following decision:

1. Noting the relevant decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee at its nineteenth and twentieth sessions, and by the Bureau of the Committee at its twentieth and twenty-first sessions in June 1996 and June 1997 respectively; 
2. Commending the recent efforts and commitment of the Government of Ecuador to address the complex threats to the integrity of the Galapagos World Heritage site and Marine Area;
3. Noting that the draft "Special Galapagos Law" currently before the Ecuadorean Congress, where it has been approved in a first debate, is the centrepiece of an effective conservation strategy for the site;
4. Invites the Government of Ecuador to notify in a timely fashion the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee of the final enactment and entering into force of the law referred to above;
5. Decides not to inscribe the Galapagos World Heritage site on the List of World Heritage in Danger, at this time;
6. Decides that if, by the opening date of the next session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, the Government of Ecuador has not notified the Chairman of the World Heritage Committee the enactment and entry into force of the Galapagos Special Law as stipulated in Paragraph 4 above, Galapagos Islands be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger."

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1997

The Committee, at its last session in Merida, Mexico, decided to "include the Galápagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger, effective 15 November 1997, unless a substantive written reply by Ecuador is received by 1st May 1997, and the Bureau, at its twenty-first session determine that effective actions have been taken".

At its twenty-first ordinary session in June 1997, the Bureau, after having studied the reports of the State Party and IUCN, were convinced that effective actions had been taken and that it would not be appropriate to include the Galápagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger. Nevertheless, the Bureau requested Ecuador to submit, by 15 November 1997, an up-to-date report describing the situation in Galápagos, and addressing the following issues: decree; law; control of residency; quarantine; environmental management of populated areas; introduced species; marine reserve; tourism; and financing. In addition, the Bureau recommended that if the decrees issued by the Government of Ecuador are not reflected in law by the time of the twenty-first session of the Committee, in December 1997, the Committee once again consider adding the Galápagos to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 The Bureau may wish to examine the report from the State Party due by 15 November 1997 at the time of its session and take appropriate actions thereupon.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 21 BUR IV.B.20

The Bureau thanked IUCN, and the Observer of Ecuador for their reports. It noted that there was a major effort in Ecuador to take steps to conserve the World Heritage values of the islands.

The Bureau recalled that, at its twentieth session in Merida, the World Heritage Committee decided "to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger, effective 15 November 1997, unless a substantive written reply by Ecuador is received by 1st of May 1997, and the Bureau, at its twenty first session determine that effective actions have been taken".

Having studied both the report of the State Party and the report of IUCN, the Bureau came to the conviction that such effective actions have been taken that the efforts of the Ecuadorean authorities should be honoured. The Bureau therefore decided that it would not be appropriate to include the Galapagos National Park in the List of World Heritage in Danger at this time.

In order to enable the World Heritage Committee, at its twenty first session, to have a full picture of the up-to-date situation of the World Heritage Site, the Bureau asked the State Party to deliver a progress report by, 15 November 1997, on the nine issues outlined in the IUCN report of 3rd June 1997, as follows:

The Bureau recommended the World Heritage Committee to ask the State Party for an annual progress report on the above mentioned issues from the end of 1998 until the end of 2002.

The Bureau further recommended that if the decrees of the Government of Ecuador are not reflected in law by the time of the twenty-first session of the World Heritage Committee, scheduled in December 1997, in Naples, Italy, the Committee could once again consider adding the Galapagos to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 21 COM VII.C.38

VII.38 Galapagos National Park (Ecuador)

The Committee took note of the detailed report provided by the Government of Ecuador on 15 November 1997 concerning the situation of the Galapagos Islands as well as of further information by IUCN. The Committee decided the following:

1) Noting the relevant decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee at its 19th and 20th sessions, and by the Bureau of the Committee at its 20th and 21st sessions in June 1996 and June 1997 respectively;

2) Commending the recent efforts and commitment of the Government of Ecuador to address the complex threats to the integrity of the Galapagos World Heritage site and Marine Area;

3) Noting that the draft "Special Galapagos Law" currently before the Ecuadorean Congress, where it has been approved in a first debate, is the centrepiece of an effective conservation strategy for the site;

4) Invited the Government of Ecuador to notify in a timely fashion the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee of the final enactment and entering into force of the law referred to above;

5) Decided not to inscribe the Galapagos World Heritage site on the List of World Heritage in Danger, at this time;

6) Decided that if, by the opening date of the next scheduled session of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee, the Government of Ecuador has not notified the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee of the enactment and entry into force of the Galapagos Special Law as stipulated in Paragraph 4 above, Galapagos Islands be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

7) Requested the State Party, in accordance with the recommendation made by IUCN at the June 1997 meeting of the Bureau, to provide the Committee with an annual progress report up to the end of 2002.