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Okavango Delta

Botswana
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Governance
  • Invasive / alien freshwater species
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Mining
  • Other Threats:

    Animal sanitation and diseases

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Transboundary management of water resources
  • Lack of wildlife monitoring programme
  • Animal sanitation and diseases
  • Mining exploration licenses overlapping with the buffer zone
  • Management and governance
  • Engagement of local communities and indigenous peoples
  • Alien invasive species
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted to the property: USD 150,000 from the Flanders Funds-in-Trust (2017-2019)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 1 (from 2017-2017)
Total amount approved : 27,080 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 1 December 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1432/documents/, and reports the following:

  • All prospecting licences (petroleum and metals) in the buffer zone have been relinquished. In return, seven alternative licenses, located to the southwest of the panhandle, would be renewed in January 2018. The State Party will continue to monitor the activities;
  • The Okavango Delta Management Plan review process has been initiated with International Assistance and the State Party’s own funds. It will address the majority of the Committee requests, namely, the integration of wildlife monitoring protocols in the systematic wildlife monitoring programme, management effectiveness, governance, access, cultural rights and benefit sharing;
  • The Community Based Natural Resource Programme continues and tourism is promoted through community concession areas;
  • The Wildlife Conservation Research Strategic Plan (2014-2020) is being implemented but the annual aerial survey could not be undertaken due to financial constraints. The data of the surveys undertaken by private concessionaires will be integrated into a wildlife monitoring database expected to be functional at the beginning of 2018;
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the veterinary cordon fences has not yet been conducted due to lack of funds;
  • Biological control of the invasive Salvinia weed is continuing, and boats and fishing gear are regulated to prevent spread;
  • The States Parties of Botswana, Angola and Namibia are collaborating through the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) to ensure any proposed major developments within the watershed are subject to an EIA. Notably, OKACOM has commissioned guidelines on the implementation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on shared watercourses, and initiated a study on the status of the wider Cubango-Okavango river basin;
  • In March 2017, the construction of a 1.16 km cable-stayed bridge and the hardening of the associated 3 km approach road at Mohembo began based on a 2009 EIA. The project aims to provide a more reliable transport route to the existing motorised pontoon, to connect villages to public services and to attract visitors.

On 16 February 2018, the State Party submitted additional information regarding the EIA of the Mohembo bridge, including a sketch plan and pictures of the proposed bridge, a revised chapter on the hydrological studies, and a response from the Department of Roads.

Lastly, with the support of the UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust cooperation and UNDP Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme, the COMPACT grant-making programme will be initiated within the property.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

It is welcomed that all prospecting licences in the buffer zone will be relinquished and that the State Party commits to monitor the activities outside of the buffer zone. However, the alternative concession zones adjacent to the buffer zone and the property raise some concerns. It is therefore important to ensure that an EIA, including an assessment of impacts on the OUV of the property is undertaken before any exploration activities are initiated.

The tripartite collaboration through OKACOM is appreciated, especially as regards the commitment to undertake an EIA for proposed major developments as per Decision 40 COM 7B.78 and to develop guidelines to assist with the implementation of the SADC Protocol. The guidelines should offer a coordinated mechanism at a basin-wide scale for the three riparian states to provide prior notification on planned activities that could cause transnational impacts. Nevertheless, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN note that any development in the Okavango watershed which would lead to water abstraction is highly likely to impact the OUV of the property. Given the complexity and the extent of the basin, the impacts should be assessed at the strategic level and at the landscape scale through a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment, rather than EIAs looking at individual projects.

It is noted with appreciation that the State Party has initiated the International Assistance project to review the Management Plan of the property. The efforts to control invasive alien species and to promote community engagement are also noted and should be continued. The reported lack of funding to undertake an EIA for the veterinary cordon fences and aerial wildlife survey is of concern, and it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to increase funding for the conservation of the property.

The EIA for the proposed Mohembo Bridge predates the inscription of the property on the World Heritage List and the project was not mentioned at the time of nomination. Due to the Ramsar status of the Delta, hydrological impacts have been assessed in the EIA and the identified mitigation measures should be implemented. Recommendations such as the need to undertake an EIA for all borrow pits and new quarries for construction material are strongly supported. As confirmed by the State Party in its letter of 16 February 2018, considering the newly acquired World Heritage status, additional assessments and mitigation measures are necessary to ensure specific protection of OUV attributes. For example, greater consideration should be given to wildlife movements, seasonality of biotic and abiotic factors, invasive alien species, as well as disturbance from construction and use of the bridge. The State Party's intention to liaise closely with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN in developing the revised EIA is noted with appreciation.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.89
Okavango Delta (Botswana) (N 1432)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 8B.5 and 40 COM 7B.78, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the cancellation of all petroleum and metals prospecting licenses in the buffer zone and the State Party’s commitment to continue monitoring the activities, but noting the location of the alternative licensing zones close to the buffer zone and the property, requests the State Party to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including an assessment of potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, is undertaken before any exploration activity is initiated, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  4. Appreciates the collaboration between the States Parties of Botswana, Angola and Namibia through the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) to ensure any proposed major development within the Okavango watershed is subject to an EIA, and that there is a coordinated mechanism to notify each State Party of activities that can have transnational impacts;
  5. Taking into account the potential impact on the property’s OUV of any development leading to water abstraction within the watershed and the complexity and the extent of the basin, urges the States Parties of Botswana, Angola and Namibia to assess impacts of any development at the strategic level and at the landscape scale through a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  6. Notes with appreciation the initiation of the review of the Okavango Delta Management Plan in order to reflect the property’s World Heritage status, to improve the effectiveness of the institutional arrangements and to address outstanding conservation and management issues, and reiterates its request to the State Party to continue its efforts to:
    1. Expand and strengthen programmes, which accommodate traditional resource use for livelihoods, user access rights, cultural rights and access to opportunities to participate in the tourism sector, in keeping with the property’s OUV,
    2. Address a range of other protection and management issues including governance, stakeholder empowerment, management planning, management capacity, and control of invasive alien species;
  7. Notes with concern that an EIA for the veterinary cordon fences and aerial wildlife surveys could not be undertaken due to financial constraints, and also requests the State Party to provide further financial support to the conservation of the property;
  8. Further noting that the construction of a cable-stayed bridge across the panhandle area of the property and hardening of the associated approach road has begun at Mohembo based on a 2009 EIA, considers that the measures identified in the EIA are insufficient as they do not take into account the property’s World Heritage status, and further requests the State Party to revise the EIA, in line with the IUCN Advice Note, prior to continuing the work, in order to include an assessment of the potential impacts of the construction and use of the bridge and the road on the property’s OUV, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.89

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 8B.5 and 40 COM 7B.78, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 40th (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016) sessions, respectively,
  3. Welcomes the cancellation of all petroleum and metals prospecting licenses in the buffer zone and the State Party’s commitment to continue monitoring the activities, but noting the location of the alternative licensing zones close to the buffer zone and the property, requests the State Party to ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including an assessment of potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, is undertaken before any exploration activity is initiated, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  4. Appreciates the collaboration between the States Parties of Botswana, Angola and Namibia through the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) to ensure any proposed major development within the Okavango watershed is subject to an EIA, and that there is a coordinated mechanism to notify each State Party of activities that can have transnational impacts;
  5. Taking into account the potential impact on the property’s OUV of any development leading to water abstraction within the watershed and the complexity and the extent of the basin, urges the States Parties of Botswana, Angola and Namibia to assess impacts of any development at the strategic level and at the landscape scale through a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), in line with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment;
  6. Notes with appreciation the initiation of the review of the Okavango Delta Management Plan in order to reflect the property’s World Heritage status, to improve the effectiveness of the institutional arrangements and to address outstanding conservation and management issues, and reiterates its request to the State Party to continue its efforts to:
    1. Expand and strengthen programmes, which accommodate traditional resource use for livelihoods, user access rights, cultural rights and access to opportunities to participate in the tourism sector, in keeping with the property’s OUV,
    2. Address a range of other protection and management issues including governance, stakeholder empowerment, management planning, management capacity, and control of invasive alien species;
  7. Notes with concern that an EIA for the veterinary cordon fences and aerial wildlife surveys could not be undertaken due to financial constraints, and also requests the State Party to provide further financial support to the conservation of the property;
  8. Further noting that the construction of a cable-stayed bridge across the panhandle area of the property and hardening of the associated approach road has begun at Mohembo based on a 2009 EIA, considers that the measures identified in the EIA are insufficient as they do not take into account the property’s World Heritage status, and further requests the State Party to revise the EIA, in line with the IUCN Advice Note, prior to continuing the work, in order to include an assessment of the potential impacts of the construction and use of the bridge and the road on the property’s OUV, and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, 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 44th session in 2020.
Report year: 2018
Botswana
Date of Inscription: 2014
Category: Natural
Criteria: (vii)(ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2017) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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