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Lake Malawi National Park

Malawi
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Oil and gas
  • Surface water pollution
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Illegal activities
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Surface water pollution  
  • Oil and gas exploration/exploitation
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

Total amount granted: USD 50,000 in 2015 through the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme (Flanders Funds-in-Trust)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 6 (from 1986-2012)
Total amount approved : 126,344 USD
Missions to the property until 2016**

March/April 2014: joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 3 December 2015, in a letter to the World Heritage Centre, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/289/documents/, the State Party requested more time to respond to the Committee’s decisions and reported that the new government, which started work in May 2014, had already:

  • Established a joint ministerial committee to advise cabinet on the decisions of the World Heritage Committee, particularly in relation to the issue of oil exploration;
  • Undertaken work to revise the property’s management plan, which is now at an advanced stage.

Subsequently, on 18 January 2016, the World Heritage Centre wrote to the State Party requesting:

  • Clarification on whether the State Party will submit a detailed state of conservation report for consideration at the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee;
  • Comments on a series of six reports in the Malawi press published during November and December 2015 concerning oil and gas exploration in Lake Malawi, in accordance with Paragraph 174 of the Operational Guidelines;
  • Further information on a proposed hotel construction adjacent to the property, which may impact on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);

The letter also drew attention to the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessments, on any development that may adversely affect the property, and also acknowledged the State Party’s participation in the project of the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme to develop a tourism management strategy for the property. No response from the State Party was received at the time of writing this report.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

In the absence of a comprehensive report from the State Party, it is difficult to determine the extent of progress made in addressing the Committee’s Decision 38 COM 7B.92 and the recommendations of the 2014 joint UNESCO/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission.

The primary concern for the property’s OUV arises from oil exploration activities following the granting of exploration licenses covering the whole of the Malawian portion of the lake (including the World Heritage property) in 2011 and 2013. An accidental spill anywhere in the lake would pose a potentially severe risk to the integrity of the entire ecosystem, including the aquatic zone and shoreline of the property, a concern already expressed by the Committee in its Decision 38 COM 7B.92. The media articles shared with the State Party report that oil and gas exploration activities on Lake Malawi will begin at the start of 2016.

The State Party’s efforts to manage tourism at the property, including through participation in the project of the UNESCO World Heritage Sustainable Tourism programme to develop a tourism management strategy for the property, which should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre following its approval, is noted. It should be recalled that the 2014 mission considered that the proposed development of a major hotel and tourist resort just outside the property, on the western shores of the Cape Maclear peninsula, may impact the property’s OUV and should be subject to an EIA before any approval is given, in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

There remain significant concerns highlighted in the report of the 2014 mission over aspects of the protection and management of the property. Whilst recognizing progress with revision of the management plan, it is important to ensure completion of the stakeholder consultations and effective on-the-ground protection, particularly for the shoreline aquatic habitats which provide the basis of the property’s OUV. Completion of the management plan remains a priority and its implementation should be aligned with the tourism management strategy. In the longer term, it remains important to consider options for the extension of the property to encompass a more complete sample of the lake’s unique fish, aquatic habitats and evolutionary processes.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.81
Lake Malawi National Park (Malawi) (N 289)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.92, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Regrets that the information submitted by the State Party did not address the requests made by the Committee in its Decision 38 COM 7B.92;
  4. Reiterates its concern over oil exploration activities throughout the lake, noting that an accidental spill would pose a potentially severe risk to the entire lake ecosystem, including the aquatic zone and shoreline of the property, and urges the State Party to cancel the oil exploitation permit which overlaps with the property;
  5. Reiterates its position that oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status, which is supported by the commitments made by industry leaders such as Shell and Total not to undertake such activities within World Heritage properties, and reiterates its call on Surestream and RAKGAS, that have been granted oil exploration concessions on the lake, to make a commitment to not exploit nor explore for oil or gas in World Heritage properties;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure that any oil exploration activities outside of the property, as well as any other development that may impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including tourism developments, are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  8. Also requests the State Party to complete the revision of the 2007-2011 management plan for the property and provide it for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, together with the approved sustainable tourism management strategy, in order to ensure that the revised management plan is aligned with the tourism plan and includes provisions for the implementation of the above-mentioned mission recommendations;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, a progress report and, 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.
Draft Decision: 40 COM 7B.81

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.92, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Regrets that the information submitted by the State Party did not address the requests made by the Committee in its Decision 38 COM 7B.92;
  4. Reiterates its concern over oil exploration activities throughout the lake, noting that an accidental spill would pose a potentially severe risk to the entire lake ecosystem, including the aquatic zone and shoreline of the property, and urges the State Party to cancel the oil exploitation permit which overlaps with the property;
  5. Reiterates its position that oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status, which is supported by the commitments made by industry leaders such as Shell and Total not to undertake such activities within World Heritage properties, and reiterates its call on Surestream and RAKGAS, that have been granted oil exploration concessions on the lake, to make a commitment to not exploit nor explore for oil or gas in World Heritage properties;
  6. Requests the State Party to ensure that any oil exploration activities outside of the property, as well as any other development that may impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including tourism developments, are subject to Environmental Impact Assessments in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  7. Reiterates its request to the State Party to implement all the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission;
  8. Also requests the State Party to complete the revision of the 2007-2011 management plan for the property and provide it for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, together with the approved sustainable tourism management strategy, in order to ensure that the revised management plan is aligned with the tourism plan and includes provisions for the implementation of the above-mentioned mission recommendations;
  9. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, a progress report and, 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.
Report year: 2016
Malawi
Date of Inscription: 1984
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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