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Socotra Archipelago

Yemen
Factors affecting the property in 2017*
  • Civil unrest
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Governance
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Invasive / alien marine species
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Solid waste
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal frameworks, governance and management systems
  • Ground transport infrastructure: road network
  • Livestock grazing: sheep, goat and cattle
  • Invasive species
  • Fishing and collection of marine resources
  • Solid waste: primarily in and around main settlements
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2017
Requests approved: 1 (from 2017-2017)
Total amount approved : 75,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2017**

December 2012: IUCN mission; June 2014: IUCN/Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017

On 13 February 2017, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party to verify information provided in media articles concerning new development projects on the island of Socotra, as part of humanitarian aid provided by a foundation based in the United Arab Emirates.

Following this letter, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received further information from a third party about these developments, which are reported to include residential cities, ports, hotels, and roads, without prior assessment of impacts on the unique environment of Socotra and the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

At the time of writing this report, no response had yet been received from the State Party.

On 23 May 2017, the General Organization for the Protection of Historic Cities (GOPHCY) sent a letter to the UNESCO expressing concern over ongoing military operations within the property that might affect its OUV. 

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

It should be recalled that Socotra was hit by two devastating cyclones in November 2015, causing much damage to human settlements, as well as to the terrestrial and marine environments of the property, and that the Committee has expressed its concern that the vulnerability of the property to unsustainable resource use, soil erosion and habitat degradation was likely to have been further increased by the impacts of the cyclones (Decision 40 COM 7B.86), which had not yet been fully assessed.

At its 40th session in 2016, the Committee welcomed the ongoing consideration by the Governorate of Socotra of a policy to cancel all previous decisions to expand main access roads within the property, which responds to a previous request of the Committee (Decision 37 COM 7B.9, reiterated in Decision 39 COM 7B.6) to ensure that the road network in the property is not expanded.

Finally, it should be recalled that in its 2016 report to the Committee (available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263/documents/), the State Party noted that rehabilitation of the sea port, which was damaged by the cyclones, would be limited to restoring it to its previous condition, and would not include any extensions.

In light of the above, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide to the World Heritage Centre further information on the development projects and alleged military operations on Socotra, for review by IUCN, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and that it request the State Party to ensure that any development on Socotra, including those that are part of humanitarian aid, is subject to a rigorous assessment of impacts on the OUV of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment.

It is further recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation, including in view of the impacts from the cyclones, and to support the State Party in identifying priorities for rehabilitation and management activities.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2017
41 COM 7B.23
Socotra Archipelago (Yemen) (N 1263)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.86, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Reiterates its significant concern that the vulnerability of the property to pressures from unsustainable resource use, soil erosion and habitat degradation is likely to have increased following the impacts of the cyclones, and recalls its request to the State Party to ensure that the road network in the property is not expanded;
  4. Calls on all UNESCO Member States to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  5. Recalls the State Party’s commitment expressed in 2016 that the rehabilitation of the sea port, which was damaged by the cyclones, would be limited to restoring it to its previous condition, and would not include any extensions;
  6. Requests the State Party and to provide further information on the development projects on Socotra to the World Heritage Centre and on alleged military operations, for review by IUCN, prior to taking any decisions regarding their implementation that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also requests the State Party to ensure that any development on Socotra, including humanitarian aid-related development, is subject to a rigorous assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit a copy of the completed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation, including in view of the impacts from the cyclones, and to support the State Party in identifying priorities for rehabilitation and management activities;
  9. Also reiterates its request to 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.
Draft Decision: 41 COM 7B.23

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.86, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Reiterates its significant concern that the vulnerability of the property to pressures from unsustainable resource use, soil erosion and habitat degradation is likely to have increased following the impacts of the cyclones, and recalls its request to the State Party to ensure that the road network in the property is not expanded;
  4. Calls on all UNESCO Member States to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  5. Recalls the State Party’s commitment expressed in 2016 that the rehabilitation of the sea port, which was damaged by the cyclones, would be limited to restoring it to its previous condition, and would not include any extensions;
  6. Requests the State Party and to provide further information on the development projects on Socotra to the World Heritage Centre and on alleged military operations, for review by IUCN, prior to taking any decisions regarding their implementation that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Also requests the State Party to ensure that any development on Socotra, including humanitarian aid-related development, is subject to a rigorous assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, and to submit a copy of the completed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its state of conservation, including in view of the impacts from the cyclones, and to support the State Party in identifying priorities for rehabilitation and management activities;
  9. Also reiterates its request to 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.
Report year: 2017
Yemen
Date of Inscription: 2008
Category: Natural
Criteria: (x)
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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