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Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena (Colombia) (C 285)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1984
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/285/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 108,800
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
May-June 2003: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November-December 2003: ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; 2006 Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2017: ICOMOS Advisory mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Construction of TRANSCARIBE, a new public transportation system and its impact on the wall (issue resolved)
- Marine transport infrastructure (impact of the harbour public works on the fortifications of Cartagena)
- Management Systems/Management Plan (lack of a Management Plan; lack of a regulatory conservation management system for the property; need for urban regulations for the protected area)
- Impacts of tourism/visitor/recreation
- Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
- Commercial development
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019
An ICOMOS Advisory mission visited the property upon invitation by the State Party in December 2017 (mission report available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285/documents/). On 31 December 2018, the State Party submitted a progress report on the specific recommendations of the mission report, and on 15 March 2019 an updated version available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285/documents/, informing the following:
- The Special Management and Protection Plan (PEMP) for the Walled Enclosure and San Felipe Castle was finalized and approved by the National Council of Cultural Heritage in March 2018, and was submitted in an annex. The approval of the PEMP for the Historic Centre is expected during 2019, and the PEMP for the Fortified Landscape of the Bay in early 2020;
- In accordance with national legislation, zones of influence (equivalent to buffer zones) are determined through the formulation of PEMPs. Once all three zones of influence are finalized, the buffer zone of the property will then be established;
- A Steering Committee was recently established to connect local and national authorities involved in the property’s conservation and management. A review of the structure and composition of the Institute of Heritage and Culture of Cartagena (IPCC), part of the Mayor’s Office, will be conducted with the view of strengthening its competencies as the property’s main management authority;
- The mission’s recommendations on developing Conservation Action Plans are being incorporated into the PEMPs;
- Regarding the expansion of the Bocachica Canal, no impacts on the San José and San Fernando Fortresses were found. The Workshop School of Cartagena continues corresponding monitoring actions, which will be incorporated into the PEMP for the Fortified Landscapes of the Bay;
- Several legal actions are currently underway in relation to the Aquarela real estate project located near the San Felipe Castle, after one tower was partially constructed in 2017, reaching a height of 20 stories. A Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) is currently under development, and a preliminary assessment by the National Council for Cultural Heritage concluded that the project’s impact on the property is negative. The project is currently suspended owing to police action, which is being implemented by the Mayor’s Office;
- Potential impacts to the property generated by the Hotel Santa Catalina project in the important public space Plaza de los Coches are still being evaluated by the Ministry of Culture, which plans to issue technical recommendations regarding recovery and preservation of the cultural values affected;
- Programs and campaigns to strengthen heritage accessibility, community participation in decision-making, and social appropriation of heritage are envisioned.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
The report submitted by the State Party evidences an understanding of the main challenges involved in the property’s management and the efforts being made to harmonize actions and plans between the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Cartagena. The State Party should be commended for its initiative to address outstanding conservation and management challenges through the invitation of an ICOMOS Advisory mission, and its clear commitment to protecting the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).
The lack of adequate management tools and structures, as well as the lack of defined buffer zones with suitable regulations, remain major weaknesses in protecting the property from increasing tourism and development pressures. The property’s management structures and regulations have not kept pace with the rapid development of Cartagena and the consequent threats to the OUV, particularly related to urban growth, which was a challenge signalled by the Committee at the time of inscription.
Although the Committee has requested for over ten years the finalization of the PEMPs and delimitation of the property and its buffer zones, the property currently has only one of the three required PEMPs completed and approved. The approved PEMP for the Walled Enclosure and San Felipe Castle was subject to an ICOMOS Technical Review in 2019, and is an excellent management tool that clearly develops the actions to guarantee the protection, conservation and sustainability of the property, limits the affected zone and the zone of influence, and establishes the management model, funding sources and dissemination plans, including training programmes. It is imperative that the other two PEMPs be finalized and approved urgently, and that the three plans are linked to provide a coherent and effective management framework for the property. It is also important that a Conservation Plan is prepared for the Historic Centre of Cartagena. Further, the necessity of clarifying management competencies and strengthening the capacity of local authorities, particularly the IPCC, is of vital importance to conserving the property’s OUV in the immediate and long term.
Given that pressures associated with real estate, tourism and gentrification are the most significant threats to the property’s integrity and authenticity, as concluded by the ICOMOS Advisory mission, it is imperative that the PEMPs address these phenomena and the related concerns regarding changing social dynamics, public access to the property, and social appropriation of heritage.
The Committee should request the State Party to submit a Minor Boundary Modification in accordance with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines to clarify the limits of the property as follow up to the Retrospective Inventory process and formally establish buffer zones. This request should be made by the State Party immediately following approval of the three PEMPs and the establishment of zones of influence (equivalent of buffer zones), incorporating the mission’s specific recommendations. These buffer zones should serve to protect the visual integrity of the property’s different components that were historically interconnected as part of one defence system, the visual connection of which supports the property’s OUV.
The Committee should also acknowledge the suspension of the Aquarela project and the assessments made to date by the National Council for Cultural Heritage and the 2017 ICOMOS Advisory mission of the project’s negative impacts on the property’s OUV. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to ensure that further construction does not proceed, to finalize the HIA to assess potential negative impacts on the property, and strongly consider the demolition of the existing tower as a mitigation measure. The study of the potential impacts generated by the Hotel Santa Catalina project and corresponding recommendations should also be submitted by the State Party when finalized.
Decision Adopted: 43 COM 7B.99
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.98 adopted at its 36th session (Saint Petersburg, 2012),
- Expresses its appreciation to the State Party for the invitation of an ICOMOS Advisory mission to the property in December 2017 to advise local and national authorities on important topics related to the property’s conservation and management, and commends the State Party on the actions undertaken since to implement the mission’s recommendations, and the collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Cartagena in this regard;
- Requests the State Party to continue facilitating mechanisms to support channels of communication and agreement among the national and local authorities responsible for the management of the property, to clarify management competencies and to continue strengthening the capacity of local authorities, particularly the Institute of Heritage and Culture of Cartagena (IPCC);
- Takes note of the finalization and approval of the Special Management and Protection Plan (PEMP) for the Walled Enclosure and San Felipe Castle in March 2018, and also requests that its implementation phase begin without delay;
- Regrets that the finalization and approval of the other two PEMPs envisaged for the property, as well as the delimitation of the property’s boundaries and establishment of buffer zones, have not yet been completed, despite repeated requests from the Committee since 2008;
- Further requests the State Party to address the concerns of gentrification and changing social dynamics, public access to the property, and social appropriation of heritage in the corresponding PEMPs under development for the property, in order to protect its integrity and authenticity in light of continuing tourism and development pressures;
- Urges the State Party to finalize and approve the PEMPs for the Historic Centre and for the Fortifications and Structures of the Bay as matters of utmost priority, taking into consideration the 2017 mission’s recommendations, and to provide an electronic copy of the finalized plans for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
- Requests furthermore the State Party to submit a Minor Boundary Modification in accordance with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines to clarify the limits of the property as follow up to the Retrospective Inventory process and to establish buffer zones, immediately following the completion and approval of the PEMPs for the property;
- Expresses its strong concern, in line with the assessment of the 2017 ICOMOS Advisory mission, regarding the impact of the Aquarela project on the values that sustain the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and also takes note of the National Council for Cultural Heritage’s similar conclusion in this regard;
- Also urges the State Party to ensure that further construction of the project does not proceed, to finalize the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Aquarela project in conformity with the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, with a specific section focusing on the potential impact of the project on the property’s OUV, and to strongly consider the demolition of the existing building as a mitigation measure;
- Requests moreover the State Party to complete its study and evaluation of the Hotel Santa Catalina project and to issue recommendations for mitigation measures to address any identified impacts on the OUV of the property;
- Requests in addition the State Party to implement fully the recommendations of the 2017 ICOMOS Advisory mission, with particular attention to management effectiveness and management structures, and conservation action plans, including the preparation of a Conservation Plan for the Historic Centre of Cartagena;
- 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.