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Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha (Nepal) (C 666rev)
Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1997
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/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 70,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Total amounts provided: 2006: USD 7,200 from the UNESCO/Italy Funds-in-Trust; 2008-2020: 49,376 EUR and USD 105,000 from the Oriental Cultural Heritage Sites Protection Alliance; 2009-2021: USD 2,319,220 from the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust
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
- Management Systems/Management Plan
- Management activities
- Legal framework
- Ritual / spiritual / religious and associative uses
- Commercial Development (Impact of the new structure of the Maya Devi Temple constructed in 2002 on the archaeological remains and the main sight lines of the property)
- Interpretative and visitation facilities
- Air pollution
- Industrial areas
Illustrative material see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021
On 1 December 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/666/documents/, which provides the following information in response to the Committee’s previous requests:
- The Integrated Management Framework (IMF), prepared as part of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-in-Trust project, has been finalized, accepted by the relevant government agencies and forwarded to the National Cabinet for final adoption by the Government of Nepal. The final draft IMF was appended to the State Party report;
- A range of minor structures have been erected within the property, including a wooden security post and a meditation platform. A walkway built from removable concrete blocks has been constructed within the buffer zone, and some areas have been allocated for specific religious activities, such as mass Tripitak chanting, novice ordination and special pujas. Work has ceased and is not expected to proceed on the proposed Shree Ram Cement Plant located in the vicinity of the property;
- The Lumbini Development Trust organized an initial discussion for the possible implementation of the Master Plan of the Lumbini World Peace City, which has been approved by the Government of Nepal. Site managers have committed to the completion of comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA) before implementing any significant development project under this plan. The Lumbini World Peace City Master plan was appended to the State Party report;
- The 5,000-person-capacity Buddhist Meditation Hall, located within the Lumbini Kenzo Tange Master Plan Area, in the vicinity of the property, is at an advanced stage of construction. An HIA prepared after works had commenced concluded that there would be no significant impact on the property, owing to the distant location of the development. This HIA was appended to the State Party report. The temporary meeting hall, built to organize International Buddha Jayanti celebrations and the International Buddhist Conference in 2018, will be removed once the International Buddhist Meditation and Conference Hall is completed;
- The Lumbini Development Trust is committed to developing a strategy for the protection of the Greater Lumbini Area and its wider setting, including Tilaurakot and Ramagrama. A draft conceptual plan has been prepared for the archaeological sites of Kapilavastu District, and a regional archaeological workshop and Field Tour have been organised.
- The Committee previously decided that a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission is warranted (Decision 43 COM 7B.71). However, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission has not been undertaken.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM
Although some progress has been made, it is regrettable that the IMF remains to be formally adopted by the State Party, despite repeated requests by the Committee.
The Lumbini World Peace City initiative was approved by the National Government prior to submission of details and the HIA for the project, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. In view of the scale of this project, the fragile nature of the property and its use as a place of pilgrimage for over 2,000 years, the previously expressed concerns about potential adverse impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property remain. These concerns will not be adequately resolved by considering impact ad hoc, on a project-by-project basis; a more holistic approach is needed.
The World Heritage Centre continues to receive third-party information expressing concerns about new developments at or in the vicinity of the property that may affect its OUV, notably projects about which the Committee was not informed ahead of time, despite the provisions of Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines. The submission of documentation after construction has commenced, or when a project has already been completed, circumvents the ability of the Committee, the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies to provide effective and impactful technical advice.
Additionally, some of the activities carried out within the property and its buffer zone do not appear to have been informed by prior HIAs, nor do they reference the Archaeological Risk Map of the property. This is notably the case for the 5,000-person-capacity Buddhist Meditation Hall, located within the Lumbini Kenzo Tange Master Plan Area, in the vicinity of the property, which is now at an advanced stage of construction; although an HIA was appended to the State Party’s report, this HIA was prepared only after works had commenced.
Despite assurances about the State Party’s commitment to the protection of the Greater Lumbini Area (GLA) and its wider setting, the State Party is yet to outline 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 further reduce industrial activity in the vicinity of the property. It should be noted that different phases of the UNESCO/Japan Funds-In-Turst project for the preservation of the property have made progress with archaeological research, capacity-building and awareness-raising activities, together with an International Scientific Committee (ISC) established under the project. However, the state of conservation of the property has been deteriorating. It is therefore recommended that the Committee encourage the State Party and other partners to take a holistic approach to focus efforts on the protection and management of the sacred site as a priority, and to mitigate the potential or ascertained danger to the property’s OUV and the wider setting.
The State Party should be requested to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, as previously decided in Decision 43 COM 7B.71. This mission should assess the overall state of conservation of the property, review the IMF and all ongoing studies and development proposals, and consider both the strategic approach to the GLA and the implications of the Lumbini World Peace City, in line with the protection of OUV of the property.
Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.148
The World Heritage Committee,
- Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
- Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.71, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
- Notes the finalization of the Integrated Management Framework (IMF) for the property, but regrets that, despite multiple requests, the IMF has not been formally adopted by the State Party, and therefore reiterates its urgent request to the State Party to adopt and implement the IMF as a matter of priority;
- Notes with concern that development activities continue to be undertaken within the property and its buffer zone prior to notification and submission of documentation to the World Heritage Centre, and also reiterates its request to the State Party to complete Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) for any proposed project, following the 2011 ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties, prior to carrying out any further work within the property or in adjacent areas identified as having potential archaeological significance, and to submit these HIAs and relevant project documentation to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, as soon as possible and before making any decisions that would be difficult to reverse;
- Expresses its continuing concern about the Lumbini World Peace City initiative and its potential impacts on the property, the Buddhist Meditation Hall located within the Lumbini Kenzo Tange Master Plan Area, and the ongoing need for 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;
- Takes note of different phases of the UESCO/Japanese Funds-In-Trust project for the preservation of the property particularly progress made in archaeological research, capacity-building and awareness raising activities, together with an International Scientific Committee (ISC) established under the project, strongly encourages the State Party and other partners to take a holistic approach to focus efforts on the protection and management of the sacred site as a priority and to mitigate the potential or ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and the wider setting;
- Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property as requested in Decision 43 COM 7B.71 to assess its overall state of conservation, review the IMF and all ongoing studies and development proposals, and consider both the strategic approach to the Greater Lumbini Area, and the implications of the Lumbini World Peace City, in line with the protection of OUV of the property;
- Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 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 45th session.