1.         Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal) (C 666rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2000-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 70,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided: USD 7,200 from the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust in 2006; 49,376 EUR and USD 90,000 from the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance from 2008 to 2019; USD 2,319,220 from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust for 2009–2021

Previous monitoring missions

May 2004 and November 2005: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; April and September 2008: UNESCO Advisory missions; UNESCO expert missions have been sent every year since 2009 in the context of the implementation of specific projects

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 1 February 2019, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/documents/ and responds to the Committee’s requests as follows:

In May, September and November 2018, the World Heritage Centre requested the State Party to verify the source and the contents of information received and to provide comments regarding on third-party information concerning, respectively: 1) the ongoing construction of a temporary Meeting Hall in Lumbini, 2) the proposed construction of a the Shree Ram Cement Plant Ind. Pvt. Ltd located in the vicinity of Lumbini site and 3) the construction of a 5,000-person capacity Buddhist Meditation Hall located within the Lumbini Kenzo Tange Master Plan Area, in the vicinity of the Sacred Garden of Lumbini site. At the time of preparing this document, the World Heritage Centre has not received any relevant information and/or comments on these issues.

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

It is regrettable that the IMF is yet to be approved by the State Party, despite previous assurances and repeated requests by the Committee. While the State Party reports that certain activities have been carried out within the property and the buffer zone, there is no evidence of any HIA, or that the activities carried out have taken the Archaeological Risk Map of the property into consideration.

The ongoing research to better understand the property, its related sites and larger setting is welcome. However, the project proposal for the Lumbini World Peace City has been approved, even though the State Party did not provide details on the proposed project, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, nor carry out any HIA. Given the scope of this very large new development project, the fragile nature of the property and its use as a place of pilgrimage for over 2,000 years, there are concerns that the Lumbini World Peace City project is likely to have adverse impacts on the OUV of the property. The Committee may wish to reiterate its request that the State Party carry out the necessary HIAs as a matter of urgency, in conformity with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage Cultural Properties. These HIAs should be provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any further activity related to this project occurs.

The UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust Project for the preservation of the property (2014-2021) has made comprehensive progress in the GLA in archaeological research on Buddhism and early settlements, conservation and capacity building as well as heritage awareness-raising activities. However, the state of conservation of the property has not improved and it is therefore recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party to ensure sustainable heritage preservation in Lumbini, while stressing the need to pursue community engagement.

Additionally, the World Heritage Centre continues to receive third-party information expressing concerns about the worsening environmental quality and increasing industrial development at or around the property, as well as projects, both proposed or in progress, which may affect the OUV of the property. The State Party has not provided the information requested with respect to particular projects. In light of the potential impacts of development and environmental degradation, the Committee should reiterate its request to the State Party to develop a clear strategy, encompassing specific actions for the protection of the GLA and its setting, including but not limited to Tilaurakot and Ramagrama, and to reduce further the industrial activity in the vicinity of the property. The State Party should also conduct HIAs for the proposed projects and submit information to the World Heritage Centre, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to halt immediately any construction work within the property until the potential impacts of all projects are fully assessed and suitable measures to avoid deterioration of the OUV of the property are in place.

In view of the current situation, and given that no monitoring mission was dispatched to the property for the last 15 years, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission is needed to assess the overall state of conservation of the property, review the IMF, all ongoing studies and development proposals and assist with the appropriate solutions for the Lumbini World Peace City project to identify approaches and solutions that are consistent with the OUV of the property.

Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.71

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.13, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Notes the progress made with the finalization of the Integrated Management Framework (IMF), but regrets further delays encountered with its adoption by the State Party;
  4. Notes with concern that development activities have been undertaken within the property and the buffer zone prior to the formal adoption of the IMF and without conducting the necessary impact assessments or following the Archaeological Risk Map or notifying the World Heritage Centre, as required by Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and therefore reiterates its urgent request to the State Party to adopt and implement the IMF as a matter of priority and to systematically carry out Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) for any proposed project, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in conformity with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage Cultural Properties, prior to carrying out any further work within the property or in adjacent areas identified as having potential archaeological significance;
  5. Expressing concern about the Lumbini World Peace City project and its potential impacts on the property, also reiterates its request to the State Party to provide details on the proposed project, including a comprehensive HIA prepared in conformity with the aforementioned ICOMOS Guidelines, and that this assessment be provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies before any activity is implemented or any irreversible decision is made;
  6. Also regrets that the State Party did not provide any information on the development project proposals concerning the property, as required by Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, nor a response to previous requests from the World Heritage Centre, including:
    1. the ongoing construction of a temporary Meeting Hall in Lumbini,
    2. the proposed construction of the Shree Ram Cement Plant Ind. Pvt. Ltd located in the vicinity of Lumbini site, and
    3. the construction of a 5,000-person capacity Buddhist Meditation Hall located within the Lumbini Kenzo Tange Master Plan Area, in the vicinity of the Sacred Garden of Lumbini site;

      and urges the State Party to immediately halt any construction work within the property until the potential impacts of these projects are fully assessed and suitable measures to avoid deterioration of the OUV of the property are in place; 

  7. Encourages the State Party to continue developing a clear strategy and concrete further actions to protect the Greater Lumbini Area and its wider setting, including but not limited to Tilaurakot and Ramagrama, and to reduce the increasing industrial activity in the vicinity of the property;
  8. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess its overall state of conservation, review the IMF and all ongoing studies and proposals, and assist with the development of appropriate and proactive solutions that are consistent with the safeguarding of the property’s OUV for the Lumbini World Peace City project and any other possible development projects;
  9. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 45th session in 2021.