1.         Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1996

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/754/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved: USD 33,200
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1998: World Heritage Centre monitoring mission; 2001: UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; 2005: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; 2011: UNESCO/IUCN Mission; 2015: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/754/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

The State Party did not submit a report on the progress in implementing the recommendations adopted in Decision 38 COM 7B.76, which was requested by the Committee at its 38th session (Doha, 2014), and therefore, no updated information is available on most of the issues previously raised by the Committee, including actions following the closure of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM), the developments in the Special Economic Zone “Baikal Harbour” and ore mining at Kholodninskoye deposit.

As a response to the concerns raised by the Committee at its 38th session, the State Party of Mongolia provided information regarding plans to build hydroelectric power plants on the Selenge and Orkhon Rivers, concluding that it was premature to draw conclusions on any potential impacts on the property.

The State Party of Mongolia invited an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to Mongolia, from 14 to 17 April 2015, to review the scope, scale and status of dam projects and to discuss about their potential impacts on the property. The invitation was also extended to the authorities of the Russian Federation, as requested by the Committee. However, the State Party of the Russian Federation did not take part in this mission.

The mission visited two of the three planned project site locations, Shuren Hydro on the Selenge River and Egiin Gol on the Eg River. The mission received the table of contents of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), chapter 8 on Lake Baikal and a brief conclusion. At the time of the preparation of this report the preliminary conclusions of the Reactive Monitoring mission have been considered by IUCN, but the full mission report was not yet available.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The Committee may note with regret that the State Party of the Russian Federation did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property.

The Committee may wish to thank the State Party of Mongolia for inviting an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to Mongolia. The information provided by the State Party of Mongolia to the mission that according to the conclusions of the study carried out in 2014, the Egiin Gol project will not impact significantly the hydrology of the Selenge River and will not affect alone the hydrological features of the property is noted. However, the cumulative impacts of the construction of the three planned dams and reservoirs, namely Egiin Gol and Shuren hydropower plants and Orkhon river reservoir complex, may have negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and therefore need further careful analysis.  It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Mongolia, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to provide all information and reports available on potential impacts of the Egiin Gol project on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and integrity of the property.

For the Shuren hydropower plant and Orkhon River project, no EIAs are available yet; however, Terms of Reference (ToRs) have been developed for the preparation of these EIAs. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Mongolia to ensure that the ToRs include development of a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to provide the World Heritage Centre with copies of the EIAs, when available, and not to approve any of the projects until the EIAs and other relevant documentation have been reviewed by IUCN.

The mission noted that, according to the provided ToRs, the funding for the development of feasibility studies and EIAs for Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river project has been provided by the World Bank, as part of the Mining Infrastructure Investment Support Project (MINIS) “to facilitate investments in infrastructure to support mining related activities” which raises serious concerns about the purpose of the proposed projects.

In the absence of updated information on the other issues raised at the 38th session of the Committee, it is not possible to conclude whether the Committee’s requests on these issues have been addressed by the State Party of the Russian Federation and it is therefore recommended that the Committee reiterate its requests regarding the developments of the “Baikal Harbour” and “Gate of Baikal” Special Economic Zones, mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit and the necessary actions following the closure of the BPPM. 

The below draft Decision may be revised when the final mission report is available.

Decision Adopted: 39 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.76, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Regrets that the State Party of the Russian Federation did not submit the state of conservation report, as requested by its Decision 38 COM 7B.76;
  4. Reiterates its requests, expressed in Decision 38 COM 7B.76, to the State Party of the Russian Federation:
    1. To develop a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the future use of the Baikal Paper and Pulp Mill site and its impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
    2. To ensure that mining at the Kholodninskoye deposit remains prohibited beyond 31 December 2014,
    3. To undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), in particular concerning tourism development within the property and its vicinity, in order to identify alternatives that will not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property,
    4. To expedite the development of management plans for the protected areas which constitute the property as well as an integrated management plan for the property as a whole, in line with Paragraph 112 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Thanks the State Party of Mongolia for having invited and hosted an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission further to the Committee request made at its 38th session;
  6. Requests the States Parties of the Russian Federation and of Mongolia to implement the mission recommendations, in particular:
    1. For the Russian Federation, to provide, within the report on the state of conservation of the property specific information on the existing provisions and regulations for water use and management in Lake Baikal and their subsequent effects on the hydropower plant management downstream the property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its next session,
    2. For Mongolia:
      1. to ensure that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) developed for the Egiin Gol Project includes assessment of potential impacts not only on the hydrology, but also on the ecological processes and biodiversity of the property, and specifically on its OUV, and to provide the full EIA report to the World Heritage Centre,
      2. to ensure that the Terms of Reference developed for the preparation of EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and the Orkhon River projects include a specific assessment of any potential impacts of the projects on the OUV and integrity of the property,
      3. to provide to the World Heritage Centre the EIAs for the Shuren Hydropower Plant and Orkhon river reservoir complex,
      4. to develop an assessment of cumulative impacts of any planned dams and reservoirs in the Selenge river basin that may have an impact on the OUV and integrity of the property and to provide this assessment to the World Heritage Centre,
      5. not to approve any of the projects until the above mentioned EIAs and assessment of cumulative impacts have been reviewed by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  7. Invites the States Parties of the Russian Federation and Mongolia to continue their cooperation under the Intergovernmental Agreement and also requests them to jointly develop a SEA for any future hydropower and water management projects which could potentially affect the property, taking into account any existing and planned projects on the territory of both countries;
  8. Further requests the State Party of the Russian Federation to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016.