1.         Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) (C 121bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2003-2007

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-2015)
Total amount approved: USD 417,619
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 10 million (1979-2001) from the International Safeguarding Campaign; USD 45,000 (2005) and USD 20,000 (2011) from UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust. Several UNESCO extra-budgetary projects have been approved in 2015-2016 for the emergency safeguarding, conservation and rehabilitation process of the Kathmandu Valley after the 2015 earthquake. They include USD 1 million from the Chinese Hainan Airlines Group (Cihang Foundation), USD 250,000 from the Hong Kong based Fok Foundation, USD 145,000 from the UNESCO Japanese Funds-in-Trust, USD 100,000 from the Nepal Investment Bank and USD 18,000 from voluntary contributions.

Previous monitoring missions

February 2003: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS mission; April 2007: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2011: UNESCO Advisory Mission with international experts; November 2011: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; October-November 2015: joint World Heritage Centre /ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2017: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 31 January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/121/documents and highlights the following:

The report also provides some details of the progress accomplished for individual monuments of the seven Protected Monument Zones of the property.

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

It is recommended that the Committee acknowledge the commitment of the State Party and the considerable amount of work that it has undertaken for the recovery of the property, particularly its capacity-building efforts, and the work undertaken by other international agencies. However, it must be acknowledged that scale and scope of the disaster, goes well beyond the capacity and resources of the DoA to deliver an adequate response or to coordinate the work of others.

At the time of drafted this document, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies have received neither the invitation nor the Terms of the Reference for an Advisory mission to the property, as strongly encouraged by the Committee in its previous decision.

The detailed results of the Reactive Monitoring missions of October 2015 and March 2017 clearly highlight that the property is facing serious deterioration of its architectural and town-planning coherence. This has arisen not only from the immediate impact of the earthquakes, but worryingly also from most of the work undertaken during the subsequent recovery process, which is adding to the erosion of the property’s integrity and authenticity. The 2017 mission report describes in clear details the scale and scope of damage to all the monument zones two years after the earthquake, the lack of any support or protection for many damaged areas, the demolition of ancillary structures, and the degradation of housing areas and commercial properties. The slow pace of recovery and the damaging restoration work carried out on some of the monuments appears to reflect the current management weaknesses across the property, the lack of adequate planning or coordination, and the overall lack of capacity to undertake the necessary documentation, research and analyses that should underpin all of the work. It is regrettable that the recommendations of both missions have not been systematically and fully followed and implemented by the State Party.

The potential and ascertained threats identified by the aforementioned missions are so considerable that the recovery process needs to be quickened and made more effective. To achieve the considerable amount of work that remains to ensure recovery, the property needs more support and more structures that allow a proportionate response to the significant threats that it faces; and it needs the development of a coherent and coordinated overall Recovery Master Plan, along with Recovery Plans for individual monument zones. It also needs stronger mechanisms to coordinate and control projects undertaken by international agencies, over-arching guidance within which all projects should be undertaken and the development of clear justifications for interventions based on evidence and documentation. To these ends, it is recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to initiate, with technical support from the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, an International Scientific Steering Coordination Mechanism tasked with assisting the State Party with developing structures to coordinate and guide the recovery of the property and its OUV and balance the needs of the fabric of the property with the social and economic needs of its communities.

Notwithstanding the good measures adopted by the State Party, the recovery process is not currently at an adequate scale to deal with the major challenges that have arisen following the earthquake. Worryingly there is a lack of evidence to support the work undertaken, which often does not respect the distinctive traditional structures, materials and local practices. All of this is impacting adversely on the OUV of the property and has potential to inflict even greater damage in the future. Therefore, the property is clearly currently facing actual and potential threats to its OUV, in accordance with Paragraph 179 of the Operational Guidelines.

In line with the above, it is strongly recommended that the Committee consider inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in order to ensure that immediate measures can be taken to focus recovery on projects that sustain the attributes of OUV, particularly the distinctive building structures and materials, in order to avoid reconstruction and conservation that is problematic and damaging to authenticity. It is also recommended that the same support from the international community should be encouraged to support local communities in terms of their housing and social needs, as well as for conservation and reconstruction.

Finally, it should be noted again that the March 2017 mission discussed in detail with the State Party the technical, planning, legal and management measures necessary to recover the attributes of OUV. These could be considered as a contribution towards a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), which the State Party would need to propose following an inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7B.12

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.95 adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Acknowledges the strong commitment of the State Party and the work that it has undertaken for the recovery of the property, particularly its capacity-building efforts, as well as the efforts of international agencies and the six year plan for the recovery of the monuments damaged by the earthquake;
  4. Also acknowledges the scale and scope of the disaster (as described in the reports of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring missions to the property of October 2015 and March 2017), the laudable work undertaken and the continuing, serious deterioration of the property's architectural and town-planning coherence resulting from the immediate impacts of the earthquakes;
  5. Recognizes that the pace of recovery and the damaging restoration work on some monuments appears to reflect the current need for improvement in management capacity across the property, to undertake the necessary documentation, research and analyses that should underpin all recovery work;
  6. Requests that the recommendations of the October 2015 and March 2017 missions be systematically carried out, fully followed and implemented in a best way by the State Party;
  7. Encourages the State Party to invite the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to provide technical support to assist the State Party with developing structures to coordinate and guide the recovery of the property and its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  8. Also considers that the potential and ascertained threats to the OUV of the property are so considerable that the recovery process needs to be made more effective, and that the scale and scope of the disaster and the response required goes well beyond the capacity and resources of the Department of Archaeology of Nepal (DoA), and also considers that much greater input, collaboration and coordination of support is needed from the international community;
  9. Requests the State Party to fully commit to use appropriate methods and materials in recovery works;
  10. Reiterates its request that the State Party integrate the Recovery Master Plan (RMP) within an overall socio-economic revitalization programme for urban communities, encourage residents and local business to engage in the recovery process and ensure that it delivers wide-ranging social and economic benefits;
  11. Calls upon the international community to support the State Party’s urgent recovery work through financial, technical or expert assistance, including support for local communities in terms of their housing and social needs;
  12. Suggests the State Party to invite a Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory Mission to ascertain the progress accomplished by the State Party to assist in the implementation of the six year RMP as well as to give guidance on reviewing it and recommends that this mission take place by the end of 2018;
  13. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 43rd session in 2019; with a view to assuring the maintenance of the OUV of the site.