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), 90,000 € (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 2023

On 1 December 2022, the States Parties of China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan submitted a joint state of conservation report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1442/documents/. On 6 December 2022 the State Party of Kazakhstan submitted a separate report. An executive summary of this report is available at the above-mentioned link. Progress in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented in these reports, as follows:

On 26 September 2022, the State Party of Kazakhstan submitted to the World Heritage Centre an HIA for the Eco Village Talgar project in the buffer zone of the historical and cultural heritage component site of Talgar. An ICOMOS Technical Review on the HIA was transmitted to the State Party on 9 February 2023.

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

Progress continues with research, interpretation, stakeholder engagement and monitoring of the 33 component sites, which comprise the property. The Secretariat for the property is based at the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre-Xi'an, and provides coordination and support. Although progress is reported in updating and revising management plans for the property, these remain incomplete. It is a major priority that they are finalised or updated and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. Understandably, recent visitor management has focused on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting reduced visitor numbers. The States Parties should now address the carrying capacities of the component sites, placing sustainability and protection of attributes which support the OUV of the property at the core of visitor management.

Some specific projects and initiatives have not yet been adequately addressed in accordance with previous Committee Decisions. It is welcome that the route of the Birlik-Akbulak highway and bridge have been revised to pass north of the buffer zone of the Talgar settlement, and that the old bridge is to be retained as tourist infrastructure. However, the State Party of Kazakhstan has not yet provided the previously requested detailed plans of these proposals, for the review by the Advisory Bodies before commitments are made or work is undertaken. Development issues within the buffer zones of the Ak-Beshim and Krasnaya Rechka settlements are unresolved, and the State Party of Kyrgyzstan should ensure that attributes which support the OUV of the property are not impacted. It is appropriate to remind the three States Parties of their obligation to submit details of major restoration or new construction projects which may affect the OUV of the property, and HIAs, to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, in advance of any decision which would be difficult to reverse, and to draw attention to the new Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessment in a World Heritage Context. The Committee should request that the State Party of China submit documentation of the integrated rural sewage treatment project, as well as the special education school proposed within the buffer zone of the Weiyang Palace in Chang’an City of the Western Han Dynasty.

The decision not to approve the proposed Eco-Village within the buffer zone of the Talgar settlement is welcome, as this development would have distorted the landscape setting of this component of the property. The State Party of Kazakhstan is invited to consider alternative options for an Eco-Village outside the buffer zone. While the reported institutional arrangements for cultural heritage protection are acknowledged, it is regrettable that the State Party of Kazakhstan is yet to establish the previously requested World Heritage Steering Committee. The States Parties concerned should also implement the 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape as a tool for integrating heritage management with development plans and processes for the cities and settlements in the property to better protect their attributes.

Conservation and management of this complex serial transnational property would be assisted by definitive documentation of boundaries and buffer zones, as previously encouraged by the Committee. The Committee should request all States Parties to ensure that the boundaries and buffer zones of inscribed component sites are documented in cadastral maps, and that these maps are submitted to the World Heritage Centre.

Initiatives that have been pursued in collaboration with the HIST, in relation to World Heritage properties in Xi’an are commendable and should be extended to monitor the state of conservation of the entirety of the property, in accordance with previous Committee requests.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.156

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 40 COM 7B.34, 41 COM 7B.88, 42 COM 7B.5 and 44 COM 7B.22 adopted at its 40th (Istanbul, 2016), 41st (Krakow, 2017), 42nd (Manama, 2018) and extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the important coordinating role of the Secretariat based at the ICOMOS International Conservation Centre-Xi’an (IICC-X) in ongoing research, interpretation, stakeholder involvement and monitoring, and the progress with management plans for some components of the property, but reiterates its previous requests that outstanding management plans be finalized as a matter of priority, taking into consideration the outcomes of the 2016 joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, and be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Also notes the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting reduction in visitor numbers and again 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;
  5. Further notes the information provided by the State Party of Kazakhstan that the revised route of the Birlik-Akbulak highway and bridge will pass to the north of the buffer zone of the Talgar settlement and that the old bridge will be retained in pedestrian use as tourist infrastructure, and also reiterates its previous request to the State Party of Kazakhstan to 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;
  6. Again 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 attributes which support the OUV of the property, including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) prepared in accordance with methodology of the Guidance and Toolkit for Impact Assessments in a World Heritage Context, and to continue to submit detailed project documentation to the World Heritage Centre for review, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines before making any decision that would be difficult to reverse, and in particular, requests the State Party of China to submit detailed documentation of the integrated rural sewage treatment project and special education school proposed within the buffer zone of the Weiyang Palace in Chang’an City of the Western Han Dynasty;
  7. Welcomes the decision not to approve the proposed Eco-Village within the buffer zone of the Talgar settlement and also encourages the State Party of Kazakhstan to consider alternative options for such projects, outside the component site and its buffer zone;
  8. Further reiterates its previous requests 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 property through the existing agreements and management mechanisms, and further encourages the three States Parties to ensure the effective and coordinated conservation and management of component sites through the International Coordination Committee and IICC-X;
  9. Notes with concern that development issues in the buffer zones of the Ak-Beshim and Krasnaya Rechka settlements remain unresolved and also requests the State Party of Kyrgyzstan to continue efforts to ensure that attributes which support the OUV of the property are not impacted by development;
  10. Further requests the three States Parties to ensure that the boundaries and buffer zones of all inscribed component sites are duly documented in cadastral maps and that these maps are submitted to the World Heritage Centre and that 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape is implemented as a tool for integrating heritage protection with development plans and processes for the cities and settlements in the property;
  11. Also welcomes the use of new technologies and collaboration with the International Centre on Space Technologies for Natural and Cultural Heritage (HIST) to monitor World Heritage properties in Xi’an, but reiterates furthermore its previous request that all concerned partners work closely with the HIST and the International Institute for Central Asian Studies to use space technology applications to monitor the state of conservation of the entirety of the property, and invites again all parties 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 2024, 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 47th session.