1.         Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania) (N 506)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1989

Criteria  (ix)(x)

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/506/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2004-2004)
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD 150,000 in the framework of the World Heritage Centre's Marine Programme

Previous monitoring missions

2002, 2003, 2004, 2013: World Heritage Centre missions; 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

On 31 January 2022, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/506/documents, which provides the following information:

Numerous reports, scientific or impact studies are appended to the State Party report.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The State Party has made substantial efforts to address the threats affecting the property. In-depth knowledge from numerous studies and the management effectiveness chart make it possible to identify the issues. It is recommended to continue the efforts of developing knowledge, monitoring and actions against threats.

Noting that climate change is a crucial issue for the distribution of ecosystems (in particular seagrasses) and species and therefore for the OUV of the property, as well as for local populations, it is recommended that the State Party prioritize its prospective analysis on the potential impacts of climate change on the OUV and submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review. Noting that the ecosystems of the property represent an important reservoir of blue carbon, the State Party is encouraged to explore the eligibility for funds to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to share these experiences with other World Heritage properties.

Any consideration for the relocation of threatened villages should be part of this reflection carried out in consultation with the communities concerned, and the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall the importance of the principle of free, prior and informed consent, in accordance with the Convention and the international standards.

It is worrying that fishing in the property has increased tenfold since 1997 and doubled since 2014, even if selachian catches are stagnating thanks to the actions carried out. It is recommended to intensify these actions to end this practice. A reflection seems necessary on the impact of the intensification of fishing on the OUV, even if the annual contribution of artisanal fishing inside the property represents only 1% of the total of this segment at the level of the Mauritanian EEZ.

Significant efforts are being made to oversee the development of Chami and limit the associated threats. The waste produced must be managed sustainably, in line with the recommendations of Chami's sustainable waste management strategy. The relocation of the gold processing centre 30 km to the east seems positive, but clarification is needed concerning the management of mining waste and other environmental aspects of this site. Although the analyses currently show the absence of significant heavy metal contamination in the property, it is important to continue these analyses and install monitoring equipment.

It is recommended to finalize exploration of the technical feasibility of a possible designation of the property as a PSSA (potentially taking into account the planned wind farm), in addition to national efforts to limit the risks. The current abandonment of oil exploration in Block C-19 is welcomed. No information is provided on the status of oil exploration projects in block C-7 located near the property.

Given the concerns of the management authority of the property on the potential impacts of the offshore seismic campaign and the lack of significant consideration of its impacts on the OUV in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), it is recommended not to authorize this campaign before revising the ESIA to assess the potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in accordance with the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context, developed in collaboration between the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre, and taking into account the recommendations of the property’s management authority.

Considering the wind farm development project at the borders of the property (Nour – Hydrogène Vert), it is important that an ESIA is carried out in accordance with the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context, to assess any potential impact on the OUV of the property, and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, before any decision is taken.

It is also necessary to continue the monitoring of the groundwater harnessed for the Tasiast mine and to complete the strategic regional assessment of the hydrological system.

It is noted that avian influenza has not had an impact on the property, and it is recommended that the State Party be commended for its efforts in dealing with this threat and that it continues monitoring it.

Regarding the potential addition of new criterion(a), as discussed during the meeting of 10 February 2022 between the State Party, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, it is recommended that the State Party consider whether it wishes to submit a new nomination for inscription of the property, in order to include new criteria or not.

The State Party's request to provide reports on the state of conservation of the property every five years is well noted, however, given the many projects concerning the property, it is preferable that a monitoring report be submitted to the World Heritage Centre in December 2024.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.11

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.87 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Commends the State Party for the significant efforts made and requests it to pursue them, in particular by implementing the 2020-2024 Development and Management Plan, and by continuing to develop knowledge, monitoring and the fight against threats affecting the property;
  4. Considers that climate change is a crucial issue for the distribution of species and ecosystems, particularly seagrasses, and therefore for the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property and for the local populations, and requests the State Party:
    1. To prioritize its prospective analysis on the potential impacts of climate change on the OUV and submit it to the World Heritage Centre,
    2. That any consideration of the relocation of threatened villages be part of this reflection, in consultation with the communities concerned and not be carried out without their free, prior and informed consent and in accordance with the Convention and international standards;
  5. Noting that the ecosystems of the property represent an important reservoir of blue carbon, encourages the State Party to explore the eligibility of the property for funds to adapt to the effects of climate change, and to share these experiences with other World Heritage properties;
  6. Considering on the one hand the stagnation of selachian catches, and on the other hand the tenfold increase in fishing in the property since 1997, also requests the State Party to intensify the efforts undertaken to limit the catches of selachians in order to end this practice, and to carry out an analysis of the impact of increased fishing on the OUV of the property;
  7. Also commends the State Party for the actions taken to oversee the development of Chami and limit its impact on the property, and in particular the relocation of the gold processing centre, and also requests it to continue the analyses on the heavy metal contaminations in the property, to sustainably manage waste at Chami and to provide information on the management of mining waste and other environmental aspects in the new gold processing centre;
  8. Welcomes the efforts of the State Party to limit maritime risks and, in addition, reiterates its request to finalize the exploration of the technical feasibility of a possible designation of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area, before submitting a final application to the International Maritime Organization;
  9. Also welcomes the current abandonment of oil exploration in Oil Block C-19 and further requests information regarding the status of exploration activities in Block C-7;
  10. Considering the concerns about the potential impacts of the offshore seismic campaign and the lack of significant consideration of the property in the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), further requests the State Party not to carry out any activity before revising the ESIA to assess potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in accordance with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for evaluation by IUCN, and to take into account the recommendations of the management authority for the property;
  11. Noting with concern the wind farm development project at the borders of the property (Nour – Hydrogène Vert), urges the State Party to carry out an ESIA to assess the potential impacts on the OUV of the property, in accordance with the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and to submit it to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, before any decision is taken;
  12. Further requests the State Party to continue monitoring the groundwater harnessed for the Tasiast mine and to finalize the strategic regional assessment of the hydrological system;
  13. Notes with satisfaction that avian influenza has not had an impact on the property, commends the State Party for its efforts in the face of this threat and further requests it to continue the monitoring;
  14. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2024, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above.