1.         Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications (Sri Lanka) (C 451)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1988

Criteria  (iv)

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/451/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-1997)
Total amount approved: USD 3,334
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

2002: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; November 2007: UNESCO expert Advisory mission; April/May 2008: UNESCO New Delhi Office Advisory mission; February 2010: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 10 December 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/451/documents, which includes the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Galle Port Development (January 2015) and the Integrated Management System (IMS) document (January 2015):

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

It is noted that the port development project has been significantly scaled back. The terminal quay has been shortened and is intended for tourism cruise ships only. The conclusions of the HIA are largely positive and see the development of the port as having great potential for the development of the area; the major negative impact remains the way new structures in the harbour and at the port will be visible from the property and could affect views of the property from the sea and from the opposite side of the harbour. The HIA provided a series of recommendations in order to minimise this impact on the OUV of the property. They include the need to downsize and relocate the new structures associated with the port as far away from the Fort as possible, undertake further hydrodynamic modelling of the proposed design of the port area, and carry out monitoring of the potential impact on underwater archaeology. The State Party has responded that it is too late to scale back the development and that adequate hydrological modelling has been undertaken.

It is suggested that the Committee request the State Party to provide exact plans for the port development as soon as possible and to indicate how its recommendations have been considered in order to limit the potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property. Furthermore, the way development projects will be addressed must be clarified, should the port project be successfully implemented, along with the consequences of increased tourism such as the need for larger buildings. Little has been said about the ways in which future development will be planned or controlled.

According to the HIA, the effects of the changed currents and tidal flows will not have any impact on the marine archaeology. The State Party should consider appointing a marine archaeologist at an early stage during the development to closely observe the impacts of the project, in order to initiate mitigating actions, if necessary. It is noted that the State Party does not consider it necessary to extend the buffer zone to include maritime archaeology, which supports the attributes of OUV, although it should be highlighted that the State Party indicates that this heritage is fully protected under national legislation.

While the Integrated Management System Report contains overall strategies for the management of the property, it remains unclear how and when it will be implemented, how it will reinforce the overall management capacity of the Galle Heritage Foundation, and how far along the process of adopting this system has come – all of which was already requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session. In addition, it is considered that further legislative changes would be required to ensure that the system is functional. A clear funding strategy, including funding for the maintenance of the property, should also be provided. Furthermore, a tourism strategy should be developed to promote and protect the cultural values of the property and ensure sustainable benefits for the local community, particularly from the port project which, if successful, could overwhelm local infrastructure.

The management and conservation of the property remains a concern, particularly in view of the lack of information in the State Party report concerning progress with the revision of the boundaries and with the international cricket stadium project. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property, in order to consider the detailed plans for the port project and how it will be managed sustainably to benefit the property and local communities, as well as to examine the overall state of conservation of the property.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.47

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM7B.21, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Acknowledges the information provided by the State Party concerning the Galle Harbour project and welcomes the significant scaling back of the project;
  4. Taking note of the findings of the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA), supports its recommendations and requests the State Party to:
    1. Provide assurances that the recommendations will be considered, in order to limit the potential impact of the development on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property,
    2. Make available detailed plans for the port development as soon as possible,
    3. Appoint a marine archaeologist at an early stage during the development, who shall closely observe the impacts of the project and initiate mitigating measures if necessary;
  5. Notes the information provided on the Integrated Management System and recommends that the State Party:
    1. Consider the need to make further legislative changes to ensure its functioning,
    2. Provide a clear timetable for the implementation of the Management Plan,
    3. Strengthen the management capacity of the Galle Heritage Foundation,
    4. Establish a clear, long-term funding strategy which includes sufficient funds for the maintenance of the property,
    5. Develop a tourism strategy to promote and protect the cultural values of the property and ensure sustainable benefits for the local community, especially from the Port project;
  6. Acknowledges that the State Party has invited an ICOMOS Advisory mission concurrent to the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee in order to consider the plans for the Port project prior to its adoption, and to examine the overall state of conservation of the property, and also requests the State Party, to provide large-scale plans and high-resolution, photo montages of the port project for examination by the Advisory mission;
  7. Takes note of the expiry of the funding timeline for the project in May 2017 and also strongly urges the State Party not to start the Port Project until the findings of the ICOMOS Advisory mission have been considered by the World Heritage Centre;
  8. Further requests the Director of the World Heritage Centre, in consultation with the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, to officially determine whether it is appropriate for the Port Project to proceed having regard to the findings of the mission and in compliance with all Committee Decisions related to the Port Project;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, 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 42nd session in 2018.