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Angkor

Cambodia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • Housing
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Other Threats:

    • Uncontrolled urban expansion; • Lack of clarity regarding property rights and building codes; • Poor law enforcement;

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Uncontrolled urban expansion;
  • Lack of an appropriate management system;
  • Lack of clarity regarding property rights, ownership and building codes;
  • Poor law enforcement;
  • Lack of capacity of management agency.
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2021

Total amount provided to the property: Approximately USD 52 million through various international partners (1992--present)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 4 (from 1992-1998)
Total amount approved : 113,595 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

September 2005: Technical advisory mission concerning the protection of Zones 1 and 2 of Angkor; in addition, the ad hoc experts of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC-Angkor) carry out monitoring of the property and of ongoing projects in the complex of Angkor, twice per year, on the occasion of the ICC technical and plenary sessions. 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

Since November 2020, the World Heritage Centre received communications through media and civil society groups concerning the proposed construction of a tourist complex of 75 hectares in the immediate vicinity of the property and requested the State Party to provide technical documents for review by the Advisory Bodies. In the meantime, the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of Angkor (ICC-Angkor), during its plenary session of 27 January 2021, examined the project proposal and advised the State Party to reconsider it.

On 29 March 2021, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/668/documents/ and presents conservation issues raised in the Committee’s previous decisions as follows:

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both tourism and conservation activities on the property have significantly diminished since March 2020, but the APSARA National Authority, the managing body of the property, has continued its activities, such as monitoring based on the risk map and necessary conservation works on numerous structures including Angkor Wat, Bayon, Sra Srang and Preah Khan. Important new discoveries of structures and artefacts were also reported;
  • Work has also been ongoing to safeguard or restore natural and combined elements of the property, which are integral part of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), including measures for the hydraulic system, composed of barays (reservoirs), dykes and ancient canals, prevention against flooding and restoration of Siem Reap river, as well as the plantation of nearly 15,000 trees in 2020 to maintain the dense forest of the property;
  • Considering that 13.5% of the State Party’s GDP is derived from tourism, improvements to the infrastructure have been implemented with strict preventive archaeological measures;
  • Considering the 90% decrease in tourism visitation in 2020, the authority commissioned a development plan (2020-2035) to diversity offers, alleviate impacts to the property, increase local benefits and prepare for the post-COVID period;
  • Concerning a reported project for the construction of a tourist complex on the area immediately outside the buffer zone of the property, the State Party considered the technical views of the Ad Hoc experts of the ICC-Angkor and declared officially on 23 March 2021 through a press release of the Ministry of Culture and Arts of Cambodia that this project “cannot be implemented in this current context”.

In a letter addressed to the World Heritage Centre on 24 March 2021, the APSARA National Authority also declared that the planned expansion of the international airport in Siem Reap, studied by ICOMOS with circumstantiated views in 2020, is not to be pursued.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

Since the property’s inscription on the World Heritage List in 1992, in the aftermath of a regional conflict, the State Party has strived to manage the large and complex property, receiving important support from the international community. The ICC-Angkor, the Secretariat of which is entrusted to UNESCO, holds two sessions yearly in order to guide the conservation and management policies and to coordinate efforts of various partners. Nearly 30 years after the end of the conflict, the APSARA National Authority is now equipped with considerable national expertise to ensure proper protection and management of the property.

While the State Party has been seriously affected by a 90% of decrease in tourism visitation in 2020, it reports a variety of conservation activities led by its national staff, in numerous major temples and hydraulic structures and in their surrounding environment.

The Committee may wish to recognize the progress made by the State Party and the contribution of the ICC-Angkor over three decades as a model of international coordination mechanism, providing a neutral forum to discuss a variety of projects in a scientific and objective manner.

The Committee may also wish to commend the State Party, which, at the request of the World Heritage Centre and following the ICC-Angkor’s technical review, took prompt action to address the concern of the proposed project for the construction of a tourist complex of 75 hectares immediately outside the buffer zone of the property, and concluded that the project cannot be pursued in the current context. The State Party is therefore encouraged to seek advice from the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme (https://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism/) and to update the Sustainable Tourism Development Plan for the property to provide over-arching principles that would guide the scale, scope and nature of future tourism projects in relation to how they might support the integrity and authenticity of the property, and offer potential to deepen understanding and appreciation of the Angkor archaeological park and its wider setting. The Tourism Development Plan, under preparation, should reflect these principles, make a clear statement on this primary objective and set out an appropriate course of action.

The Committee may further wish to appreciate the authorities’ decision not to approve the expansion of the current international airport of Siem Reap, but note that a new airport is under construction 40km away from the property. For this and any other important projects and activities that may have an impact on the property and its OUV, the Committee shall request the State Party to provide technical documents to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision is made that would be difficult to reverse, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Considering that the Committee’s last review of the state of conservation of the property dates back to 2014, and that numerous new management and conservation issues have arisen since then, the Committee shall request the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre a succinct report on the overall framework of the currently applied management tools (e.g. Zoning Plans, Integrated Management Plans, Conservation Plans, Tourism Development Plan, conservation charters) for review by the Advisory Bodies.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.139
Angkor (Cambodia) (C 668)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.8, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Takes note with satisfaction that the national authorities have been undertaking activities in the field of conservation and management for numerous archaeological and hydraulic structures and for the natural environment of the property, benefitting from the expertise of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) and strong support of a number of international partners;
  4. Commends the State Party for not pursuing the reported project for the construction of a tourist complex on the area immediately outside the buffer zone of the property, following the technical review of the ICC-Angkor, and acknowledges with satisfaction that the extension project of the existing International Airport of Siem Reap has not been approved, noting however that the State Party opted for a new International Airport far from the property, and requests the State Party to provide technical documents to the World Heritage Centre, if alternative proposals are to be considered for both cases, for review by the Advisory Bodies, at the earliest opportunity;
  5. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with information about any major restoration and proposed project with potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, including detailed information on Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) prepared in conformity with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage cultural properties, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision is made that would be difficult to reverse;
  6. Also notes the elaboration of the Tourism Development Plan in order to diversify the tourism offer; encourages the State Party to seek advice from the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme and update the sustainable Tourism Development Plan for the property to provide an over-arching principles to guide the scale, scope and nature of future tourism projects in relation to how they might support the integrity and authenticity of the property; and further requests the State Party to submit the draft Tourism Development Plan, and the updated sustainable Tourism Development Plan, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Finally requests 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, including the overall situation of the management framework, presenting the major management tools, guidelines and plans under application, and the implementation of the above, for review by the Advisory Bodies.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.139

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.8, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Takes note with satisfaction that the national authorities have been undertaking activities in the field of conservation and management for numerous archaeological and hydraulic structures and for the natural environment of the property, benefitting from the expertise of the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Sustainable Development of Angkor (ICC-Angkor) and strong support of a number of international partners;
  4. Commends the State Party for not pursuing the reported project for the construction of a tourist complex on the area immediately outside the buffer zone of the property, following the technical review of the ICC-Angkor, and acknowledges with satisfaction that the extension project of the existing International Airport of Siem Reap has not been approved, noting however that the State Party opted for a new International Airport far from the property, and requests the State Party to provide technical documents to the World Heritage Centre, if alternative proposals are to be considered for both cases, for review by the Advisory Bodies, at the earliest opportunity;
  5. Also requests the State Party to provide the World Heritage Centre with information about any major restoration and proposed project with potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, including detailed information on Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) prepared in conformity with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidelines on HIAs for World Heritage cultural properties, for review by the Advisory Bodies, before any decision is made that would be difficult to reverse;
  6. Also notes the elaboration of the Tourism Development Plan in order to diversify the tourism offer; encourages the State Party to seek advice from the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme and update the sustainable Tourism Development Plan for the property to provide an over-arching principles to guide the scale, scope and nature of future tourism projects in relation to how they might support the integrity and authenticity of the property; and further requests the State Party to submit the draft Tourism Development Plan, and the updated sustainable Tourism Development Plan, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  7. Finally requests 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, including the overall situation of the management framework, presenting the major management tools, guidelines and plans under application, and the implementation of the above, for review by the Advisory Bodies.
Report year: 2021
Cambodia
Date of Inscription: 1992
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Danger List (dates): 1992-2004
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2021) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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