1.         Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor (China,Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan) (C 1442)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2014

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(v)(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/1442/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-In-Trust USD 188,361 (2001-2015): “Preparatory Assistance for the Silk Roads World Heritage nomination in China and Central Asia”, “Sustainable Tourism: Silk Road”; “Silk Roads Heritage Corridor in Central Asia and China”; “Enhancing Silk Road Interpretation and Quality Guides Training”; Norway USD 483,414 (2007-2013): “Support the World Heritage serial nominations: Central Asian Petroglyph sites and the Silk Roads”; The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office (BELSPO), 600,000 € (2010-2013): “Silk Roads Cultural Heritage Resource Information System (CHRIS) for Central Asia”; UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust projects: “Support for documentation standards and procedures of the Silk Roads World Heritage Serial and Transnational Nomination in Central Asia” (Phase I, USD 985,073 from 2011 to 2015); “Support for Silk Roads World Heritage Sites in Central Asia” (Phase II, USD 697,796 from 2015 to 2018); UNESCO/Republic of Korea Funds-In-Trust USD 350,000 (2018-2021): “Support for the Serial and Transnational World Heritage Nomination(s) of the Silk Roads in Asia (Phase II)”; European Union 4 million € (2018-2022): “Support to Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran - International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage”.

Previous monitoring missions

March 2016: ICOMOS Advisory mission to the Talgar component site in Kazakhstan; November 2016: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to eight component sites of the serial property in Kazakhstan (Talgar, Kayalyk, Karamergen, Aktobe, Kulan, Kostobe, Ornek sites and the Akyrtas archaeological complex).

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 23 January 2020, the States Parties of China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan submitted a joint state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents/, which addresses the Committee’s previous decisions as follows:

The IICC-X and the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST), a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO, are collaborating with the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS, Uzbekistan) to apply space technology applications to monitor the current state of conservation of all 33 component sites of the property. In the framework of this cooperation, scientific research can ensure better protection and management of the Silk Roads cultural heritage.

The World Heritage Centre received an HIA for the re-development and enlargement of Xi’an Railway Station, located in the buffer zone of the Daming Palace component, from the State Party of China on 17 August 2020. Following several exchanges between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, including an on-line consultation meeting on 15 December 2020, an ICOMOS Technical Review on the proposed project was transmitted to the State Party on 11 February 2021.

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

Continued progress has been made with research, interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring of the property, through public outreach activities that aim to better understand how individual component sites relate to the overall Chang’an-Tianshan corridor and the wider Silk Roads network. The States Parties jointly contribute to the development of laws and regulations and the preparation and improvement of management plans. However, management plans for the component sites and their landscape settings in Kazakhstan do not appear to have been completed yet.

The States Parties have made full use of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee for the Silk Roads World Heritage nomination (ICC) and its Secretariat based at the IICC-X, and it is recommended that the Committee acknowledge this progress and encourage continued efforts in this regard.

It is welcome that the 22 component sites in China are reportedly well monitored and that the majority benefit from conservation master plans and national and local regulations. However, increasing visitation remain concerning, including annual increases of over 70%, although the State Party has responded by conducting new carrying capacity studies. Post-COVID-19 regulations may require the carrying capacities to be further reviewed at all component sites.

The information provided by the State Party of Kazakhstan regarding the bypass route at Talgar is noted, especially the halt to construction and the tentative new delineation of the Birlik-Akbulak Road bypassing all protective zones of the Talgar settlement. No decision has been made yet regarding the dismantling of the bridge partially constructed across the Talgar River in 2016, which was requested by the Committee in Decision 40 COM 7B.34. The Committee should reiterate its request that, before any commitment is made or any work undertaken, more detailed plans of all proposals should be provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, showing the precise route of the road, the location of the new bridge and any demolition or new construction, in one of the two working languages of the Committee (i.e. English or French).

The State Program for the Development of the Tourism Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan foresees the development of tourism resources to improve the accessibility of sites, the management and monitoring systems, and by “creating a favourable tourist climate […] [and] an effective system for promoting the country's tourism potential in the domestic and international markets”. Construction of an asphalt road at the Akyrtas component site regrettably occurred without prior submission of documentation to the World Heritage Centre, and the impact assessment submitted subsequently has not followed the approach outlined in the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties.

It is also regrettable that the State Party of China did not submit the proposal for re-developing and enlarging the Xi’an Railway Station at an earlier stage, to avert or mitigate adverse impacts on the setting of the Daming Palace component, as detailed in the ICOMOS Technical Review. Had the HIA been prepared earlier and been submitted to the World Heritage Centre with proposed designs, this project might have been amended to avoid its adverse impacts on the setting of the Daming Palace site. However, at this late stage, when construction work is already underway and the project is due for completion in July 2021, it is not feasible to recommend changes that might mitigate the adverse impacts in any meaningful way. It is recommended that the Committee remind the States Parties of the provisions of Paragraphs 118bis and 172 of the Operational Guidelines regarding any major restoration or new construction which may affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and that such plans, including assessment of potential impacts on the property’s OUV, should be submitted as soon as possible and before making any decision that would be difficult to reverse. In the case of this serial transnational property, it is recommended that coordination should also be sought through the ICC.

The State Party of Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to address development issues in the buffer zones of the Ak-Beshim and Krasnaya Rechka settlements are noted. It is recommended that the Committee strongly encourage the inscription of the boundaries and buffer zones of all inscribed component sites on cadastral maps.

The use of new technologies to monitor Silk Roads sites is strongly encouraged, particularly in view of the size and remoteness of some components. The cooperation of IICC-X, HIST and IICAS to apply the use of space technologies to monitor and assess the state of conservation of the property is therefore welcomed, and it is recommended that the Committee encourage the States Parties to share good practice examples on the use of new technologies, including for dissemination via the World Heritage Centre’s website.

Finally, as better protection and management of this serial transnational World Heritage property requires coordination at both national and transnational levels, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party of Kazakhstan to establish a World Heritage Steering Committee for the Silk Roads in Kazakhstan and develop effective coordination with China and Kyrgyzstan for the management of the overall serial property through the existing agreements and arrangement.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7B.34, 41 COM 7B.88 and 42 COM 7B.5 adopted at its 40th (Istanbul, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017) and its 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes that progress has been made with research, interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring along the property, including public outreach activities, and that the States Parties jointly contribute to the development of laws and regulations and to the preparation and improvement of Management Plans, encourages all three States Parties to continue their collaborative efforts in these key areas, and reiterates its request that any outstanding management plan be finalized as a matter of priority, taking into consideration the outcomes of the November 2016 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Notes with satisfaction that the three States Parties have made good use of the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee for the Silk Roads World Heritage nomination (ICC), and notably of its Secretariat based at the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre-Xi’an (IICC-X, China), for information management and capacity-building activities, and also encourages the continuation of this practice to continuously improve the coordination of the protection and management of the property;
  5. Also notes the reported increase in visitor numbers at some component sites, along with the steps taken to address this potential issue, notably by conducting new carrying capacity studies, and further encourages the States Parties to review carrying capacities at all component sites in the light of post-COVID-19 health and safety regulations, while ensuring that visitor management places sustainability and the protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) at its core;
  6. Further notes the information provided by the State Party of Kazakhstan regarding the bypass route at Talgar, and also reiterates its request that the State Party submit to the World Heritage Centre more detailed plans of these proposals, showing the precise route of the road, the location of the new bridge and any demolition or new construction, in one of the working languages of the Committee (i.e. English or French), for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any commitment is made or any work undertaken;
  7. Notes furthermore that no decision has been made yet regarding the dismantling of the bridge partially constructed across the Talgar River in 2016, which was requested in previous decisions, and further reiterates its request to the State Party of Kazakhstan to provide this information, once tentative plans have been outlined, for review by the Advisory Bodies before any decision is made that would be difficult to reverse;
  8. Regrets that the State Party of Kazakhstan did not provide any of the requested information concerning road management prior to the joint report, notably for the component sites of Akyrtas, Kostobe, and for the adjusted route of the A3 Ust-Kamenogorsk-Almaty road that avoids the buffer zone of the Kayalyk component, and that work progressed without prior review by the Advisory Bodies; also regrets that the State Party of China did not submit the proposal for the re-development and enlargement of the Xi’an Railway Station located in the buffer zone of the Daming Palace component in a timely manner to prevent the project’s adverse impacts on the setting of the site; and urges the three States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, details of any major restoration or new construction which may affect the OUV of the property, including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) prepared in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, as soon as possible and before making any decision that would be difficult to reverse, in conformity with Paragraphs 118bis and 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Reiterates furthermore its request to the State Party of Kazakhstan to establish a World Heritage Steering Committee for the component sites in Kazakhstan and to develop effective coordination with China and Kyrgyzstan for the management of the overall serial transnational property through the existing agreements and management mechanisms, and encourages furthermore the three States Parties to ensure the effective and coordinated conservation and management of component sites through the ICC, particularly with regard to development projects and their impact to the property;
  10. Also takes note of the efforts of the State Party of Kyrgyzstan to address development issues in the buffer zones of the Ak-Beshim and Krasnaya Rechka settlements, and strongly encourages all three States Parties to ensure that the boundaries and buffer zones of all inscribed component sites are duly inscribed in cadastral maps;
  11. Encourages moreover the three States Parties to use new technologies to monitor all component sites of the property; calls upon them and all concerned partners to work closely with the IICC-X, the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies (IICAS) to use space technology applications to monitor the state of conservation of the property; and invites them to share good practice examples with the World Heritage Centre, so that they may be made available to other States Parties on the World Heritage Centre’s website;
  12. Requests the three States Parties to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, an updated joint report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 46th session.