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Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Erosion and siltation/ deposition
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zones
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan
  • Encroachments and urban pressure
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • Fragile state of the property and accelerated degradation by environmental factors, lack of maintenance and limited conservation planning
  • Erosion
  • Lack of established boundaries and buffer zone
  • Absence of a conservation and management plan
  • Encroachments and urban pressure
  • Tourism pressure (particularly at Portobelo)
  • Insufficient legislation for the preservation of built heritage and regulations combining the two components of the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective Measures for the property
Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 4 (from 1980-1993)
Total amount approved : 76,800 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

1993: technical mission; November 2001, March 2009, March 2010: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; February 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 24 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/135/documents/, in which it is informed, that in response to the World Heritage Committee´s approval of the revised programme and timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures in the period 2016-2019 (40 COM 7A.3), the State Party took all the necessary steps for their implementation. Among the actions undertaken during 2016, the following is reported:

  • Definition of boundaries and buffer zones: The process is under way in coordination with relevant ministries and authorities. This is expected to be completed by mid-2017. The cadastral plans of all fortifications of Portobelo and its subsequent registration are currently being surveyed and updated;
  • Management Plan / Master Plan: Desk studies and diagnosis of existing tools and plans are being undertaken in preparation for a consultancy that should start in March 2017;
  • Territorial regulation: The POT (Plan de Ordenamiento Territorial) of Portobelo was not yet approved by the Ministry of Housing but is in process of drafting and revision;
  • Strategies for protection and conservation: This study has a 75% progress;
  • Budgetary allocations: The budget request to the Ministry of Finance and Economy for the implementation of the corrective measures in 2017 was not approved and a number of interventions foreseen under the Emergency Plan could not be undertaken. The Ministry of Finance is now in the final stages of negotiation with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to obtain funding for emergency interventions and for the implementation of the corrective measures;
  • The reactivation of the “National Commission for World Cultural and Natural Heritage” and the active participation of the Ministry of the Environment and the Panama Tourism Authority strengthened institutional collaboration and participation. In this regard, the Public Use Plans for the Protected Forest of San Lorenzo and for the National Park of Portobelo were created by the Ministry of the Environment.

While the National Institute for Culture (INAC) is legally responsible for the national cultural heritage, the management of the property continues to be entrusted to the Patronato de Portobelo y San Lorenzo (PPSL), which received funding from INAC to strengthen its capacities. PPSL has appointed an architectural conservationist as project manager, and the strengthening of management arrangements and the creation of a technical office are well underway. The activity report of the Patronato also includes information on the preparation of a new visitor centre with funding from the Tourism Authority.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

Considering the report submitted, it is recommended that the Committee congratulate the State Party for its very clear understanding of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and of the actions required for the implementation of the corrective measures and the achievement of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR).

The strengthening of the institutional arrangements with the Ministry of the Environment, the Panama Tourism Authority and local authorities is most welcomed.

However, it should be recalled that the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2012 and that the State Party was not able to implement the corrective measures foreseen for the period 2012-2015. A new strategy, work plan and timeframe were proposed by the State Party and adopted by the Committee in 2016.  While the state of conservation report confirms the commitment of the institutions directly responsible for the conservation and management of the property, it remains a matter of very serious concern that sustained budgetary allocations for the implementation of the Emergency Plan and the programme of corrective measures are still lacking. It is commendable that efforts are being made to obtain a loan from the IADB and grants from other sources but it should be stressed that sustained government funding should be a priority and is indispensable for the implementation of the Emergency Plan and the programme of corrective measures as agreed upon with the World Heritage Committee. Several corrective measures and interventions foreseen under the Emergency Plan could not be initiated in 2016-2017 due to lack of funding and it is feared that in the absence of this funding the very serious threats to the physical fabric of the property, its conservation and appropriate management may aggravate in a short period of time.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7A.25
Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) (C 135)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Welcomes the committment of the institutions responsible for the conservation and management of the property and their efforts to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation and coordination;
  4. Notes with great concern that there is a continued lack of sustained funding from the State Party that jeopardizes the implementation of the Emergency Plan and the corrective measures foreseen for 2016-2019, which, as a consequence, may seriously affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and its attributes, including its authenticity and integrity;
  5. Urges the State Party to secure sustained government funds that are required for the integral implementation of the strategy, work plan and timeframe 2016-2019 in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) by 2019;
  6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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;
  7. Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
41 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/17/41.COM/7A, WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add and WHC/17/41.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
    • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 41 COM 7A.54)
    • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision 41 COM 7A.55)
    • Belize, Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Decision 41 COM 7A.2)
    • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 41 COM 7A.23)
    • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.4)
    • Chile, Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (Decision 41 COM 7A.24)
    • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.6)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.7)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.8)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.9)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.10)
    • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.11)
    • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 41 COM 7A.32)
    • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.3)
    • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.18)
    • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 41 COM 7A.33)
    • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 41 COM 7A.34)
    • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 41 COM 7A.35)
    • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 41 COM 7A.36)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 41 COM 7A.37)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 41 COM 7A.38)
    • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 41 COM 7A.39)
    • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 41 COM 7A.40)
    • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 41 COM 7A.41)
    • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 41 COM 7A.14)
    • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 41 COM 7A.28)
    • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 41 COM 7A.29)
    • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 41 COM 7A.30)
    • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 41 COM 7A.56)
    • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 41 COM 7A.15)
    • Palestine, Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Decision 41 COM 7A.42)
    • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 41 COM 7A.43)
    • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 41 COM 7A.25)
    • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 41 COM 7A.26)
    • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.16)
    • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 41 COM 7A.21)
    • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 41 COM 7A.19)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 41 COM 7A.44)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 41 COM 7A.45)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 41 COM 7A.46)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 41 COM 7A.47)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 41 COM 7A.48)
    • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 41 COM 7A.49)
    • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 41 COM 7A.31)
    • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 41 COM 7A.22)
    • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 41 COM 7A.17)
    • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 41 COM 7A.1)
    • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 41 COM 7A.57)
    • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 41 COM 7A.27)
    • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 41 COM 7A.51)
    • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 41 COM 7A.52)
    • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 41 COM 7A.53)
      Draft Decision: 41 COM 7A.25

      The World Heritage Committee,

      1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7A,
      2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7A.3, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
      3. Welcomes the committment of the institutions responsible for the conservation and management of the property and their efforts to strengthen inter-institutional cooperation and coordination;
      4. Notes, however, with great concern that there is a continued lack of sustained funding from the State Party that jeopardizes the implementation of the Emergency Plan and the corrective measures foreseen for 2016-2019 and, as a consequence, may seriously affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and its attributes, including its authenticity and integrity;
      5. Urges the State Party to secure sustained government funds that are required for the integral implementation of the strategy, work plan and timeframe 2016-2019 in order to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) by 2019;
      6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, 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;
      7. Decides to retain Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Panama) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
      Report year: 2017
      Panama
      Date of Inscription: 1980
      Category: Cultural
      Criteria: (i)(iv)
      Danger List (dates): 2012-present
      Documents examined by the Committee
      SOC Report by the State Party
      Report (2017) .pdf
      arrow_circle_right 41COM (2017)
      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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