1.         East Rennell (Solomon Islands) (N 854)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1998

Criteria  (ix)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2013-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted; see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/6965

Corrective measures identified

Identified through the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission and proposed for adoption in the draft Decision below

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2006-2012)
Total amount approved: USD 56,335
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 56,000, UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust: Technical Support to East Rennell; USD 35,000, UNESCO/Flanders Funds-in-Trust: Support to East Rennell

Previous monitoring missions

March–April 2005: UNESCO/IUCN Monitoring mission; October 2012: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2015: World Heritage Centre/IUCN Advisory mission; May 2019: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission was carried out to the property from 10 to 22 May 2019. The mission report is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/documents/.

On 13 May 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property to the mission team, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/854/documents/, which provided updates on issues previously raised by the Committee, as follows:

Following the oil spill incident, the State Parties of Australia and New Zealand have provided considerable support to the Solomon Islands in order to prevent oil from reaching the property.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Continued efforts by customary landowners and local communities of East Rennell and by the State Party to keep the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property intact by banning commercial logging and mining within the property are welcomed. However, it is regrettable that a new logging concession was recently granted by the State Party, which allows commercial logging up to 200 meters from the boundary of the property, while no information is made available regarding its potential impact on the property’s OUV. It is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to monitor the logging operations closely, with a clear understanding of the demarcation of the boundary, while at the same time conducting a further study on ecological connectivity between East and West Rennell, in view of extending the buffer zone.

The clarification that the letter allegedly sent on behalf of the Tuhunui tribe, requesting to withdraw its customary land from the property, was made without mandatory consultation with tribal chiefs and subsequently revoked, is welcomed. The 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission also verified this particular issue with the Paramount Chief, Council of Chiefs and LTWHSA, and it is clear that competing and contested claims of customary rights among tribes and individual households remain a challenge for the customary management.

The on-going dialogue between the State Party and local communities to consider application of the Protected Area status to the property and to finalize the Management Plan is welcomed but needs to be concluded. Defining and adopting an adequate legal mechanism to continue protecting the property from commercial logging and mining while safeguarding customary rights to land and natural resources for sustainable use, in line with Paragraph 119 of the Operational Guidelines, is critical to ensure long-term mutual benefits to the property and the local communities, who are custodians of the property. The mission notes that the establishment of an IUCN category VI protected area could be a good tool to achieve this.

Little progress has been made to implement a set of recommendations agreed by the responsible ministries at the 2017 Round Table. It is therefore recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to ensure that those commitments are adequately addressed in the work plan and budget of the respective ministries, while seeking technical and financial support from the international community where necessary. An example relates to the mobilization of international aid to support the management of invasive alien species, such as rats. More scientific research is also needed in other areas, including to better understand the impacts of climate change and to provide a baseline for the population assessment of rare and endemic species.

The assessment that no ecological impact has been observed within the property following the oil spill in Kangava Bay is welcomed. The timely support provided by the State Parties of Australia and New Zealand played a critical role in preventing the oil from dispersing and reaching the property. It is important to continue monitoring the impact, including the socio-economic implications for communities in East Rennell.

The 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission has identified a list of corrective measures to achieve the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR). Given the urgency of addressing these issues, it is recommended that the Committee adopt these corrective measures, which are included in the draft Decision. It is further recommended that the Committee request the State Party to consider a realistic timeframe to implement the DSOCR.

Given that the property is facing a number of challenges to achieve the DSOCR, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7A.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7A.41, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Commends the efforts made by customary landowners, local communities and the State Party to protect the property, in particular by not allowing commercial logging and mining within the property;
  4. Regrets however that a logging concession has been granted up to 200 meters from the boundary of the property without assessing the impacts on its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and before an understanding of the ecological connectivity between East and West Rennell is available, requests the State Party to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for this project, and urges the State Party to closely monitor the situation, ensure that the boundary of the World Heritage property is clearly demarcated on the ground, and extend the buffer zone as new scientific information becomes available;
  5. Notes that the letter submitted to the World Heritage Centre on behalf of the Tuhunui Tribe of East Rennell in May 2018, indicating their wish to withdraw its customary land from the World Heritage property, has been revoked, and also notes the competing claims of customary rights among tribes and individual households;
  6. Welcomes the State Party’s effort to initiate dialogue with customary landowners and local communities concerning the 2010 Protected Areas Act, but also regrets that little progress has been made with the implementation of the commitments made by the State Party at the 2017 Round Table, including the finalization of a Management Plan, which was recommended by the Committee at the time of inscription in 1998, and also urges the State Party to include those commitments in the work plan and budget of relevant ministries;
  7. Adopts the following corrective measures and also requests the State Party to implement them, as a matter of urgency, to strengthen the protection of the OUV and integrity of the property while enhancing livelihoods of local communities:

    a) Adopt a new Cabinet Paper, prepared by the three Chairs of the 2017 Round Table, reconfirming the 2016 Cabinet Paper, reaffirming all Round Table Ministerial commitments for East Rennell and directing all ministries to provide a concrete timeline and budget for their implementation,

    b) Ensure that the Lake Tegano World Heritage Site Association (LTWHSA) can officially and immediately apply for National Protected Areas status for the World Heritage property in order to initiate the official consultation process by the Director of the Environment and Conservation Division, and to finalize the Management Plan (including zoning),

    c) Ensure that the World Heritage property is actively promoted, including on the website of the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau and on all relevant maps and promotional leaflets, and immediately begin actively promoting appropriate tourism using existing accommodations and facilities; 

  8. Further requests the State Party to implement all other recommendations of the 2019 Reactive Monitoring mission, including:

    a) Clarify the consent provision of the 2010 Protected Areas Act, particularly what concerns the ‘interested parties’ who would need to be involved in the process,

    b) Provide the LTWHSA with the support needed to manage the World Heritage property to international standards,

    c) Improve access to the property for tourists and local communities and improve access to basic services and facilities, 

    d) Prioritize the development of sustainable livelihoods for the local communities, recognizing the important role played by women in East Rennell, including through a development plan, and seek technical and financial support from the international community for this effort,

    e) Ensure the Rennell-Bellona Constituency Development Fund reserves an allocation for East Rennell and its local communities,

    f) Develop a scientific research programme at Lake Tegano, seeking support from the international research community and also incorporating traditional ecological knowledge,

    g) Continue and expand the recently started bird monitoring program, and seek international support to mitigate the effects of invasive species, 

    h) Ensure that EIAs are carried out for all proposed developments within the property and its vicinity to guarantee that these do not have a negative impact on the OUV of the property, 

    i) Consider registering and surveying all lands under the Registration of Customary Lands Act, prioritizing the western shore of the lake, where most people live and where initial tourism lodges should be clustered,

    j) Record and map local culture, traditional and living knowledge, customary governance, genealogies and language of the East Rennell communities, 

    k) Consider assessing, in the 2020 state of conservation report, whether the current timeframe for implementing the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) is realistic;

  9. Notes with great satisfaction the substantial support that the States Parties of Australia and New Zealand provided to the Solomon Islands in an effort to prevent the Kangava Bay oil spill from reaching the property, and calls upon the ship owner and insurer of the MV Solomon Trader to cover all expenses of the ecological and socio-economical impacts;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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;
  11. Decides to retain East Rennell (Solomon Islands) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: