1.         Petra (Jordan) (C 326)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1985

Criteria  (i)(iii)(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/326/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1987-2010)
Total amount approved: USD 167,079
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/326/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided: USD 1 million from the Italian Fund-in-Trust

Previous monitoring missions

September 2000: ICOMOS mission; March 2004: UNESCO mission; 2009: UNESCO technical expert missions; December 2010: Joint 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/326/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 1 February 2017, the State Party submitted a report available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/326/documents/, addressing the requests made by the Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015) and providing information on the management and conservation of the property, and the development of projects in the planned buffer zone.

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

On 22 April 2017, the Petra National Trust contacted the World Heritage Centre to raise a number of issues in relation to the conservation of the property. It underlined the decision of PDTRA to modify land-use regulation to favour development around the property. It also pointed out the pressure generated by current or planned projects, including those related to tourism.

The finalization and adoption of the management plan of the property is a top priority. Although regulatory measures are activated, additional details about what they stipulate would be useful.

The projects presented in the report are at an advanced level of development, either from the concept or design point of view, while the boundaries of the planned buffer zone have not yet been finalized; the maps provided in the report do not indicate the boundaries of the property and clarifications would be required.

As regards risk management, the work pursued at the Siq is important; the involvement of members of the local communities in the project is a positive element; however, it would be also useful to extend risk-preparedness studies and measures, notably landslide risks, to other areas of the property. 

Concerning the Petra museum, the State Party did not follow the request of the Committee to have the final architectural drawings submitted to the World Heritage Centre prior to the start of the works.

The State Party did not provide detailed information on the achieved works at the Petra Back Road that would highlight the compliance of the works with the protection of archaeological remains and of the environment. It appears from the report that apart from becoming an exit from the PAP, the Petra Back Road will also connect the site to a number of projects in the buffer zone and notably the Heritage Village with the possibility of becoming a major component in the development process of Petra’s territory; such a potential impact should be assessed.

The initiative to establish a Natural Protected Area in Petra is relevant and it supports the protection of the property. However, the comprehensive scientific study annexed to the report does not provide enough details on how the link between this new area and the PAP is defined. It is recommended that cultural and natural attributes not be separated when considering the protection and management of the site of Petra, beyond the boundaries of the World Heritage property whose Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) relies also on an exceptional natural setting.

The justification of the Crown Plaza Hotel extension an upgrade is presented as a major employment opportunity for local communities and a substantial contribution to the conservation of the property since it foresees to relocate the restaurant owned by the hotel from the Basin area to the Heritage Village. However, as the previous draft of the minor boundary modification transmitted by the State Party had foreseen the area of the Crown Plaza Hotel as being a no-construction zone, the extension of this project is very preoccupying in terms of urban encroachment and density of land use. There is an urgent need for clarity in the defined urban planning of the setting of the property, including its zoning.

The EIA of the Heritage Village project did not include a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA). The archaeological soundings carried out are not enough to measure the impact on the heritage of the area to be selected for the implementation of this project.

The Eco-lodge project is presented as best practice in terms of design but it is not clear whether and how the design criteria apply to the context of Petra. Moreover, the conceptual and preliminary designs would need to be examined in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. This project also raises a number of questions as regards its impact on the property and its connection to the other development projects, which are foreseen in the buffer zone as well. The potential impact of such a project is not only physical, on the land where it will be located, but has other aspects at the level of the territory of Petra in general.

The “Sustainable Development and Community Initiatives” highlight an increasingly people-centered approach to development in the region of Petra. International cooperation plays an important role in the development of Petra, with numerous organizations providing financial support to projects in the property’s planned buffer zone and technical support for conservation purposes. All these development projects are foreseen in the setting of the property where a planned buffer zone has not yet been formally defined.  In the absence of an overall master plan at the level of the territory, there is a lack of information on what their connections with one another are, and how financially and economically sustainable they are. Despite a positive focus on local communities, the creation of employment opportunities cannot be the main justification for the development of projects in the property’s setting.  It is also unclear what impact these initiatives will have on the property and its setting.

Furthermore, information relating to these projects should have been submitted in advance for review according to the process defined by Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, prior to the submission of the State of conservation report and supported by HIAs and within a clearly defined strategy for zoning of the property and its setting.

It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission as soon as possible, in order to assess the overall situation at the property and its setting and to discuss the development of a Master Plan. This mission should include a number of specialized experts in order to cover all aspects of the proposed development and planning.

Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.80

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.52, adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Regrets that the Management Plan has not been finalized yet and expresses concern that a number of major projects foreseen in the planned buffer zone have reached an advanced level of development prior to their submission to the World Heritage Centre and review by ICOMOS, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  4. Also regrets the decision of the State Party not to submit a minor boundary modification proposal towards the adoption of the boundaries of the planned buffer zone and considers that nonetheless the setting of the property must be adequately protected and requests it to clarify the protective urban regulations of the planned buffer zone including its zoning as a matter of urgency, in the context of the development of an overall Master Plan;
  5. Also requests the State Party to invite, as soon as possible, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission, with additional fields of expertise as needed, to assess the situation at the property and in the planned buffer zone, particularly those were the development projects are located or foreseen and to discuss the development of a Master Plan;
  6. Urges the State Party to put the ongoing or planned development projects on hold and to control urban development in the planned buffer zone, until the Reactive Monitoring mission has visited the property, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, detailed information on each of the development projects implemented or foreseen in the vicinity of the property, prior to the mission, for review by ICOMOS;
  7. Further 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.