1.         Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) (N 764)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

Criteria  (vii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2009-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Sale and lease of public lands for the purposes of development within the property leading to the destruction of mangrove and marine ecosystems.

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Not yet identified

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1825

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 140,000: i) USD 30,000 from the Rapid Response Facility for the monitoring of unauthorized activities in the Bladen Nature Reserves which were impacting the property; ii) USD 30,000 for emergency conservation actions in favour of the critically endangered wide sawfish (2010); iii) USD 80,000 in support of public use planning and site financing strategy development for the Blue Hole Natural Monument (2008-2009). 

 

Previous monitoring missions

March 2009: joint World Heritage Centre / IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2013: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2014

On 5 February 2014, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/764/documents  and reports on the following issues:

The Draft Statement of OUV has been finalized and it has been submitted for adoption by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The ongoing commitment of the State Party to implement the corrective measures is well noted. However, several issues remain of high concern. 

The State Party’s statement that it is not prepared to eliminate all oil concessions within and adjacent to the property is a matter of concern. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its established position that oil and gas exploration and exploitation are not compatible with World Heritage status and request the State Party to ensure that any oil concessions overlapping with the property are rescinded, and to also ensure that no oil exploration or exploitation takes place outside the property if it negatively impacts on the property’s OUV.  

The threat of sale and lease of new lands within the property and new unauthorized development activities remains high unless a comprehensive legislative instrument is established and enforced that guarantees permanent cessation of sales and leases of any lands within the property. The Cabinet’s Decision to ban development on shoals is a positive step but does not ensure a permanent cessation throughout the property as requested by the World Heritage Committee. It is understood that certain lands were sold or leased before inscription of the property on the World Heritage List and the State Party should be commended by the Committee for its efforts to eliminate unauthorized development on those lands and to bind developers to an Environmental Compliance Plan. The State Party should also consider the recommendation of the 2013 reactive monitoring mission that stricter regulation procedures for developments within or affecting the property should be developed.

The efforts of the State Party to address the threat of invasive species, particularly Lionfish, should also be commended.

However, there is some concern that the crucial policy documents, namely the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, the Land Use Policy Implementation Plan, the National Protected Areas Bill and the Fisheries Resources Bill have not been finalized. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to adhere to its commitment to pass them into law by the end of 2014 or early 2015, since these documents are essential to ensure the long-term conservation of the property.

The commitment of the State Party to expand the no-take and replenishment areas to at least 10% of Belize’s territorial waters is highly commendable. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide additional information on the distribution of these zones in relation to the location of the property and the expected effects of the initiative on the conservation of the property’s OUV.

It is finally recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, to develop a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger in which the above-mentioned issues are addressed.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 7A.31

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document Belize,
  2. Recalling Decision 37COM 7A.16 adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in the implementation of certain corrective measures, particularly those regarding expansion of no-take zones and eradication and control of invasive species; and for its efforts undertaken to control unauthorized development activities and eliminate their impacts on the property;
  4. Urges the State Party to establish, as a matter of priority, a legislative instrument that will guarantee permanent cessation of the sale and lease of lands throughout the property and a clear definition and strict control of development rights on existing private and leased lands;
  5. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to finalize the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan, the Land Use Policy Implementation Plan, the National Protected Areas Bill and the Fisheries Resources Bill by the end of 2014, and requests the State Party to submit copies of these documents to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015;
  6. Expresses its serious concern about the State Party’s statement that it is not prepared to eliminate all oil concessions within and adjacent to the property and reiterates its position that oil exploration and exploitation within or affecting the property is incompatible with its World Heritage status, and also urges the State Party to remove any oil concessions that could have a negative impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  7. Also requests the State Party to ensure that the Petroleum Exploration and Development Framework clarifies that petroleum concessions overlapping on the property will not be permitted, and that no oil exploration or exploitation will be allowed to take place outside the property, in particular within its outer boundaries, if it is likely to have a negative impact on its OUV;
  8. Further urges the State Party to prepare, as a matter of priority and in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a draft proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, a report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property, including progress made in implementing corrective measures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015;
  10. Decides to retain the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Belize) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-14/38.COM/7A and WHC-14/38.COM/7A.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:

Decision Adopted: 38 COM 8E

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-14/38.COM/8E,
  2. Congratulates the 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-14/38.COM/8E, for the following World Heritage properties:
ASIA AND THE PACIFIC:

    EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA:

    LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARRIBBEANS:

    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:

    6.  Takes note that the World Heritage Centre is in the process of harmonising all sub-headings in the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value and, as appropriate, reflects name changes of World Heritage properties throughout the text of the Statements as requested by the Committee at its 37th session, and requests the World Heritage Centre to also update the size of the property and/or its buffer zone, as appropriate, following subsequent Decisions of the World Heritage Committee concerning Minor Boundary Modifications.
    7.  Requests the States Parties to provide support to the World Heritage Centre for translation of the adopted Statements of Outstanding Universal Value into English or French respectively, and finally requests the Centre to upload the two language versions on its website.