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Colonial City of Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • Earthquake
  • Housing
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Land conversion
  • Legal framework
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Storms
  • Underground transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Legal framework (undefined and unregulated buffer zone leading to urban development pressure and inadequate control of land use)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Interpretative and visitation facilities
  • Vulnerability to earthquakes and hurricanes
  • Deterioration of historic structures derived from natural and social factors (including environmental pollution and lack of sensitization of local residents)
  • Housing - Urban development project (Sansouci)
  • Land conversion
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Society's valuing of heritage
  • Underground transport infrastructure
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2018
Requests approved: 3 (from 1990-2000)
Total amount approved : 82,207 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

1993, 1995, 1998: Monitoring missions; August 2001: ICOMOS Monitoring mission; 2002: World Heritage Centre mission; December 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; February 2009: World Heritage Centre mission; January 2014: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 12 December 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/526/documents/, which addresses the following:

  • All activities within the Programme for Tourism Development in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo (PFTCCSD), financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan, are to be carried out under the supervision of the Dirección Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM);
  • A second loan approved by the IDB, for an amount of USD 90 million for the Integral Programme for Tourism and Urban Development of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo is awaiting the approval by the national Congress. This programme will be implemented by the Ministry of Tourism and foresees participation and institutional strengthening of the DNPM and the municipality of Santo Domingo (ADN). The project will have several levels of administration including a Cooperation Unit, a Strategic Commission, a Technical Committee, and a Consultative Committee to incorporate non-governmental stakeholders;
  • New posts were created to reinforce the DNPM, with competitive salaries and technical training for the staff;
  • The causes of the collapse of a part of the Hotel Francés have been studied, and the restoration of the building is expected to be completed in early 2018 for its new use as a hotel. Due to the collapse and as requested by the DNPM, the PFTCCSD’s preventions to avoid similar situations within the property are:
  1. Elaboration of an action protocol for interventions in the historic fabric of the Colonial City,
  2. Request to the Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MOPC) the development of regulations to control the interventions in the buildings,
  3. Elaboration of geotechnical and topographical vulnerability studies;
  • The first phase of the PFTCCSD is finishing without the implementation of work on the Convent of San Francisco. The PFTCCSD instead is proposing work on the Plaza España;
  • A system to improve the visitors monitoring and carrying capacity was developed. This shows a visitor’s increase in the Colonial City of 12% compared to 2016. The requests from the private sector for interventions to ancient buildings received by the DNPM, especially hotel companies, have also increased. In addition, a parking structure with capacity for 200 vehicles is being built with the proceeds to go to conservation efforts;
  • A buffer zone at the municipal level was already created in 2015, however, its regulations are still unfinished. The State Party is also evaluating the possibility of enlarging the property to include the area, east of the river Ozama, where the Colonial City was founded;
  • With regard to the Sansouci project, no work has been carried out as part of the original Master Plan, and there are no plans to move forward at this time. The project for the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen for the time being, since the funding is not yet available. However, the recommendation reiterated by the DNPM is to reduce the number of stations to one and the final approval for this project remains in the hands of the Ministry of Culture and ADN.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The progress made at the property is welcomed.  The reinforcement of the DNPM is considered an important step to allow for the necessary oversight of all of the projects implemented as part of the PFTCCSD although it is still not clear at what level the DNPM is involved within the complex administrative structure of the programme and its decision making influence. Thus, the concern remains that decisions will be taken primarily from a tourism perspective without proper consideration of conservation issues. Therefore, more information about the content of the projects within this programme should be requested from the State Party, for review by the Advisory Bodies.  

The actions proposed after the partial collapse of the Hotel Francés seem adequate and the restoration work seems to be nearing completion.  It is recommended that the Committee request to the State Party to submit the action protocol, structural regulations, and geotechnical and topographical vulnerability studies to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, as well as their implementation effectiveness. 

The increasing number of visitors should continue to be monitored and carrying capacity margins should be respected. However, the State Party must define and implement clear actions to control interventions in historic buildings and to develop a clear sustainable tourism strategy prioritizing the safeguarding of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). 

It is further noted that the proposed project at the Convent of San Francisco has not been implemented and that in the immediate term, the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen to be funded. Furthermore, there is confirmation that no work has been carried out on the Sansouci project affecting the property or its buffer zone. Nevertheless, in the case that any of these projects move forward, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to comply with its responsibility to provide information and plans to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies at an early date before final decisions are taken. 

Work on the regulations for the buffer zone should be finalized as soon as possible, followed by the submission of the Minor Boundary Modification to the World Heritage Centre. It should be noted, that the potential extension of the property to the east of the river Ozama may be considered a Significant Boundary Modification. Early consultations with the Advisory Bodies would be useful if the State Party continues with this potential modification.

Regardless of the current investment in upgrading the property, the majority of the threats identified during the 2014 Advisory mission and addressed in Decision 38 COM 7B.42, continue to be unresolved. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to submit a detailed strategic plan to address the following as a matter of priority:

  • To finalize the process for approval of the Law for Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage;
  • The management structure and efficiency must be revised and corrected;
  • The authority and responsibilities of all actors involved have to be clearly defined and better applied;
  • To adopt a rehabilitation program with detailed timelines for implementation and secured funding;
  • To guarantee that all projects within the property undertaken by any governmental, non-governmental and private entities must be consulted and approved by the DNPM;
  • To develop a capacity-building programme on heritage conservation and management for the involved entities and actors.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.37
Colonial City of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) (C 526)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.4, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Takes note of the progress at the property to date, and in particular the reinforment of the Direccion Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM), reiterates its request to ensure that the DNPM is fully involved in decision-making and oversight in regard to the projects being planned and implemented as part of the Programme for Tourism Development in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo (PFTCCSD) and in a second Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-financed programme that is awaiting approval by Congress, and requests the State Party to provide more detailed information about this second programme to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, by 1 December 2018;
  4. Notes the proposed action protocol, structural regulations, and geotechnical and topographical vulnerability studies being proposed in the aftermath of the collapse of the Hotel Francés, and also requests these documents be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they become available;
  5. Acknowledges that the visitor’s carrying capacity system is being implemented within the property and urges the State Party to define and implement actions to control interventions in historic buildings and to develop a sustainable tourism strategy that prioritizes heritage conservation;
  6. Welcomes the indications by the State Party that the proposed project at the Convent of San Francisco has not moved forward, that no work has been carried out on the Sansouci project that impact the property or its buffer zone, and that the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen to be funded in the immediate term, and also reiterates its request to the State Party, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to inform and submit the necessary technical information to the World Heritage Centre in a timely manner so that they can be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies before final decisions are taken;
  7. Expresses its concern for the number of threats identified during the 2014 Advisory mission and addressed in Decision 38 COM 7B.42, many of which remain unresolved, and further requests it to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, a strategic plan with the responsible authorities and timelines to address the following:
    1. Finalize the work on the extension of the buffer zone and its regulations followed by a Minor Boundary Modification request, as per Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines,
    2. Finalize the process for approval of the Law for Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage,
    3. Review and improve the management structures with clearly defined responsibilities and authorities to allow adequate conservation, protection and management actions,
    4. Finalize Strategic Plan for the Integral Revitalization of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo including detailed implementation timelines and funding,
    5. To reassure that all projects within the property undertaken by any governmental, non-governmental and private entities must be consulted and approved by the DNPM;
  8. Finally requests 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.37

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.4, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Takes note of the progress at the property to date, and in particular the reinforment of the Direccion Nacional de Patrimonio Monumental (DNPM), reiterates its request to ensure that the DNPM is fully involved in decision-making and oversight in regard to the projects being planned and implemented as part of the Programme for Tourism Development in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo (PFTCCSD) and in a second Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-financed programme that is awaiting approval by Congress, and requests the State Party to provide more detailed information about this second programme to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, by 1 December 2018;
  4. Notes the proposed action protocol, structural regulations, and geotechnical and topographical vulnerability studies being proposed in the aftermath of the collapse of the Hotel Francés, and also requests these documents be forwarded to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies as soon as they become available;
  5. Acknowledges that the visitor’s carrying capacity system is being implemented within the property and urges the State Party to define and implement actions to control interventions in historic buildings and to develop a sustainable tourism strategy that prioritizes heritage conservation;
  6. Welcomes the indications by the State Party that the proposed project at the Convent of San Francisco has not moved forward, that no work has been carried out on the Sansouci project that impact the property or its buffer zone, and that the Subway Line 6 is not foreseen to be funded in the immediate term, and also reiterates its request to the State Party, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to inform and submit the necessary technical information to the World Heritage Centre in a timely manner so that they can be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies before final decisions are taken;
  7. Expresses its concern for the number of threats identified during the 2014 Advisory mission and addressed in Decision 38 COM 7B.42, many of which remain unresolved, and further requests it to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2018, a strategic plan with the responsible authorities and timelines to address the following:
    1. Finalize the work on the extension of the buffer zone and its regulations followed by a Minor Boundary Modification request, as per Paragraph 164 of the Operational Guidelines,
    2. Finalize the process for approval of the Law for Protection, Safeguarding and Development of Cultural Heritage,
    3. Review and improve the management structures with clearly defined responsibilities and authorities to allow adequate conservation, protection and management actions,
    4. Finalize Strategic Plan for the Integral Revitalization of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo including detailed implementation timelines and funding,
    5. To reassure that all projects within the property undertaken by any governmental, non-governmental and private entities must be consulted and approved by the DNPM;
  8. Finally requests 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
Dominican Republic
Date of Inscription: 1990
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (ii)(iv)(vi)
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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