1.         Island of Saint-Louis (Senegal) (C 956bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2000

Criteria  (ii)(iv)

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/956/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1997-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 11,500
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/956/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 192,697.13 from the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement

Previous monitoring missions

March-April 2004: Joint World Heritage Centre/France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement mission; April 2006: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM mission; 2007: France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement mission; February 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission with participation of an expert from the France-UNESCO Cooperation Agreement; May 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission with the participation of an expert from the European Space Agency (ESA)

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/956/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 19 December 2020, the State Party submitted a 2019 State of conservation report after having provided a progress report on 2 March 2020 – both reports are available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/956/documents/ – providing the following information:

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

The report submitted by the State Party, along with the report submitted in February 2020, shows that that many projects are now at a more or less advanced stage of implementation which reflects the strong dynamics at work on the property. Several projects are to be welcomed, notably the rehabilitation of the Cathedral and the Heritage House, the inventory of the private built heritage, and the improvement of the governance of the property, in particular through the creation of a regional commission, which is now the only authority empowered to examine building and rehabilitation permits and modifications.

The February 2020 report had already indicated that efforts regarding good governance were continuing and mentioned regular meetings between the various stakeholders and a clear distribution of responsibilities between the different actors. However, lengthy administrative procedures, exacerbated by the lack of coordination between ministerial departments, remains an obstacle to obtaining information on the integrated project for the management of Senegal's coastline and consequently the coordination of actions. Similarly, the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan of Saint-Louis (PSMV) is above all a planning document intended to ensure the safeguarding and enhancement of remarkable heritage sites, but it does not meet the requirements of a management plan. Today, it is strongly recommended that the State Party elaborate a real Management and Conservation Plan, which could include risk management and an updated action plan, and further formalize participatory coordination at the community level. The efforts of good governance have been noted and should be pursued, notably through the operationalization of the Heritage House, considered a pivotal point in the safeguarding and enhancement of the heritage and a guarantee of the sustainability of the management and conservation efforts undertaken by the State Party.

The efforts made to rehabilitate the private built heritage following its inventory, along with the monitoring of building and modification permits, the summonses and the financing mechanism, are significant and commendable. A socio-economic survey of the Island of Saint-Louis, carried out within the framework of the PDT, is also appreciated. It aims to provide a thorough analysis of the situation of the owners and a land ownership and succession survey in order to establish eligibility for subsidies under the Programmed Housing Improvement Operation (OPAH). However, the acceleration of rehabilitation, constructions and modifications projects require a regular update of the inventory and continuous illustrated documentation, for a better appreciation of the ongoing developments and transformations in progress. The efforts undertaken by the State Party to make the SINDAR database more operational are commendable and should be extended to allow the monitoring of works and to appreciate their impact on the property. Since exactions in construction and modification projects remain a concern, regular monitoring along with site visits should be reinforced, as well as wide communication to the island's inhabitants on heritage prerogatives, the regulations in place and support measures.

Similarly, although the development of the former Place Faidherbe and Avenue Jean Mermoz is intended to further enhance the property, the measures to close the Place Faidherbe to traffic are highly likely to divert and increase the density of traffic to other parts of the island, particularly on the wharves, which are not designed to support such pressure and whose structure could be weakened. Although well intentioned, this could greatly affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and it is regrettable that the State Party has not submitted the development projects with an analysis of their impact on the heritage for examination by the Advisory Bodies prior to their implementation, in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines and Decision 43 COM 7B.110. It is recommended that an impact study be carried out for the project implemented on the former Place Faidherbe. This study could focus in particular on the pedestrianization of the square and its effect on traffic throughout the island and in particular on the wharves. Mitigation measures may need to be proposed. Finally, the State Party should be reminded of the need to submit any major project to the World Heritage Centre for technical review by the Advisory Bodies.

It is noted that the State Party was able to provide information on the rehabilitation and extension project of the Grand Mosque, as previously requested by the Committee, which had expressed concern about the construction of new imposing minarets and had recommended that the architectural part of the project be adjusted to comply with the regulations in force in the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan of Saint-Louis (PSMV). However, this information is general and should be completed by plans and sections of the project and by an analysis of its impact on the authenticity of the property. It is noted that according to the State Party, only one minaret would be built instead of the four initially planned.

Finally, during a meeting with the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and IUCN on 28 January 2021, the gas and oil company BP presented the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) gas project planned in Senegal and Mauritania, notably off the coast of Saint-Louis, and its possible impact on the property. The meeting addressed the actions planned for the implementation of the project as well as some related issues, such as maritime traffic, coastal erosion studies, the relation with the Senegalese Integrated Coastal Management Programme, and the impact on other World Heritage properties in the area. Considering the proximity of this project to the property, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to submit the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies.

The analysis of the two reports makes it clear that the property is in an important and comprehensive transformation phase, which represents both a great opportunity for its conservation as well as potential risks to its OUV. Therefore, it is recommended that the State Party invite a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to review the state of conservation of the property, the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 mission, and the impact of the various projects on the property.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.120

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.110, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Notes with satisfaction the efforts made by the State Party, in particular for the ongoing rehabilitation of the Cathedral and the Heritage House, as well as for the effective governance of the property and the fund-raising efforts;
  4. Appreciates the progress made to establish an inventory of the private heritage and its rehabilitation, and requests the State Party to regularly update the inventory with continuous illustrated documentation to ensure a better appreciation of the ongoing developments and transformations of the urban fabric;
  5. Recommends that the State Party establish a Conservation and Management Plan which also includes risk management, an updated action plan integrating the various authorities in charge and in particular the future Heritage House, as well as participatory coordination at the community level;
  6. Acknowledges the efforts made to improve and enhance the property through the development of the former Place Faidherbe, renamed by the Saint-Louis municipality Place Baya-Ndar, and the Avenue Jean Mermoz, expresses its concern about the potential impacts of a traffic closure on the former Place Faidherbe, diverting and increasing traffic density on other parts of the island, in particular on the wharves that may be weakened therefrom, and also recommends that the State Party carry out an impact study of the development project of the former Place Faidherbe, to consider whether mitigation measures may be necessary;
  7. Regrets that the State Party did not submit the development projects and an analysis of their impact on the property before their implementation for examination by the Advisory Bodies, and reminds the State Party to submit to it all major projects for examination by the Advisory Bodies in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to ensure that they do not have a negative and irreversible impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  8. Further recommends that the State Party provide more detailed information concerning the rehabilitation and extension project of the Grand Mosque (plans, sections, analysis demonstrating that the project complies with the regulations in force set out in the Safeguarding and Enhancement Plan of Saint-Louis and analysis of the project's impact on the authenticity of the property);
  9. Takes note of the Grand Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) gas project by the oil and gas company BP in Senegal and Mauritania presented at a meeting with the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and IUCN on 28 January 2021, and also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre in particular the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for examination by the Advisory Bodies to assess the potential impact of the project on the property;
  10. Taking into account the many major projects underway or under preparation at the property and the significant ongoing transformations, further requests that the State Party invite a World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to assess the general state of conservation of the property and the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 mission;
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.