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Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape

Lao People's Democratic Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Management systems/ management plan
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Ground transport infrastructure (New infrastructure construction, including new proposed roads)
  • Housing (New constructions contributing to the haphazard densification of the main monumental complex)
  • Management systems/Management Plan (Lack of a coordinated management mechanism)
  • Impacts of tourism/visitors/recreation
  • Interpretative and Visitation facilities (Parking lot and visitor centre)
  • Human resources (Lack of sufficient professional staff)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2017

Total amount provided to the property: Japanese-funded project: USD379,040 (1996-97), Total Italian-funded projects through Lerici Foundation: USD 482,194 (1996-2004; 3 project phases): Phase I (1996-1997) = USD161,124; Phase II (1998-1999) = USD 164,000; Phase III (2003-2005) = USD 157,070

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved : 13,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

January/February 2011: UNESCO Mission; November 2011: France-UNESCO Convention Programme mission; February 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; April 2013: France-UNESCO Convention Programme mission, March 2014: France-UNESCO Convention Programme mission; February 2015: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 15 March 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/481/documents and provides information on the implementation of the previous recommendations made by the Committee (39 COM 7B.68), as follows:

  • The road network project (routes 14A and 14B) and the traffic management requirements have been adopted by local and national authorities. The area roadmap was confirmed by the Inter-ministerial meeting at the national level in March 2016. This road network and traffic management scheme was incorporated into the final document of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan (see below);
  • A new landscape study of the monument has been carried out, following the fire that destroyed the sala in 2015, to ensure an appropriate preservation of the cultural landscape. It has resulted in a new monument zone plan, which was approved by the local Heritage Committee in November 2016 and endorsed by the provincial Heritage Committee in December 2016;
  • The newly-adopted Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan (MP) was under preparation since 2012 and takes into account the landscape dimension beyond the property, from Ban That to Pakse. The attributes of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and their relationship to the Cultural Landscape and the town of Champasak have been defined in the report of the Master Plan, which was approved by the provincial Government on 18 February 2016. In conjunction with the MP, construction and zoning regulations have been prepared. The complete final document was approved by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport on 19 May 2016;
  • The provisions of the Management Plan have been developed into an Action Plan, to ensure that the actions reflect the property’s OUV. It was developed in cooperation with UNESCO Office in Bangkok and completed by the Vat Phou Champasak World Heritage Site Office. The building regulations are being supported by the "Governor's Decree Concerning Implementation of Regulations for the Administration of Construction for the Land Use Plan of the Vat Phou Champasak World Heritage Site" to further sustain the effective management of the property. The validated regulatory documents are being disseminated throughout the villages during 2017;
  • Coordination and cooperation is being ensured at local and national level, as well as between the Lao stakeholders and the various foreign collaborators. The International Coordinating Committee of Vat Phou Champasak meets at least once a year. The last meeting held in November 2016, under the dual presidency of the Governor of Champasak Province and the Ambassador of the Republic of South Korea to Laos, concluded the wish to further strengthen scientific coordination between the different stakeholders.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2017

Efforts undertaken by the State Party are welcomed, especially the development and adoption of a road network and management scheme, the monument zoning plan together with construction and zoning regulations, and the completion of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan.

However, the report does not provide any further response or solutions to the new constructions that were highlighted in the previous report and which cause a densification of the main monumental complex. No information was provided either on how the construction and zoning regulations will be implemented or enforced. It is also not clear from the report whether tangible progress has been made with implementing the provisions of the Management Plan and the monitoring framework. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to finalize the Management Plan, as a matter of priority, and to provide a final draft to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies.

The Lao Government has addressed the recommendations of the previous Reactive Monitoring mission and the Committee’s requests by incorporating the road network and traffic management scheme into the final version of the Master Plan. Progress on its implementation should be monitored and reported to the World Heritage Committee.

The tightening of the development control system, which should be undertaken before Route 14A is reopened to traffic and which shall prevent new construction along the section of Route 14A from km29 to km34, has been incorporated into the revised Building Code and other regulations included as Annexes 2 and 3 of the Master Plan. It is recommended that the Committee be kept informed whether the revised regulations are enforced effectively or not.

A new landscape study of the area of the monument was undertaken in 2016, resulting in a new Monument Zone Plan. The Master Plan was developed using a landscape approach, as requested, in which the physical attributes justifying the OUV were re-considered. Inter-agency coordination and cooperation is explained in the Master Plan and appears to work satisfactorily, yet progress and effectiveness should be monitored.

The need for meaningful dialogue with villages within the property through an awareness-raising program for residents and consultation with the concerned villages, is addressed in the Master Plan in relation to the establishment of control for urban development. The production of simplified documents for the use of residents appears to be very top-down process, rather than a two-way consultation. Nevertheless, the Management Plan does recognize that “protecting and managing the development of the classified site is largely based on this distribution [of simplified documents] and on dialogue with the local population”. This should be carefully monitored.

Finally, it is noted that the Master Plan guides tourism development and outlines sustainable tourism and ecotourism principles.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.94
Vat Phou and Associated Ancient Settlements within the Champasak Cultural Landscape (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) (C 481)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.68 adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the progress made by the State Party, especially with the development and adoption of a road network and management scheme, the Monument Zoning Plan together with construction and zoning regulations, and the completion of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan;
  4. Regrets that the State Party has not finalized the Management Plan and requests the State Party to finalize it, as a matter of priority, and to provide a final draft to the World Heritage Centre, along with the new Monument Zone Plan resulting from the recent landscape study, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Acknowledges the adoption of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan, which addresses recommendations made by the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission and by the Committee, and also requests the State Party to:
    1. Monitor and report on progress made with the implementation of the road network and traffic management scheme,
    2. Ensure that the revised building and other regulations are enforced effectively to prevent new construction along the section of Route 14A from km29 to km34,
    3. Monitor and report on the effectiveness of inter-agency coordination and cooperation;
  6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.94

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 39 COM 7B.68 adopted at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015),
  3. Welcomes the progress made by the State Party, especially with the development and adoption of a road network and management scheme, the Monument Zoning Plan together with construction and zoning regulations, and the completion of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan;
  4. Regrets that the State Party has not finalized the Management Plan and requests the State Party to finalize it, as a matter of priority, and to provide a final draft to the World Heritage Centre, along with the new Monument Zone Plan resulting from the recent landscape study, for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  5. Acknowledges the adoption of the Champasak Cultural Landscape Master Plan, which addresses recommendations made by the 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission and by the Committee, and also requests the State Party to:
    1. Monitor and report on progress made with the implementation of the road network and traffic management scheme,
    2. Ensure that the revised building and other regulations are enforced effectively to prevent new construction along the section of Route 14A from km29 to km34,
    3. Monitor and report on the effectiveness of inter-agency coordination and cooperation;
  6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 43rd session in 2019.
Report year: 2017
Lao People's Democratic Republic
Date of Inscription: 2001
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(vi)
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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