1.         Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá (Panama) (C 790bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1997

Criteria  (ii)(iv)(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/790/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/790/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

March 2009: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; March 2010: on the occasion of the joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to Portobelo and San Lorenzo, a technical visit to the Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and the Historic District was undertaken, as requested by the authorities of Panama; October 2010: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission; November 2013: Joint High level World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/790/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2023

In 2019, the State Party of Panamá submitted a nomination dossier with the aim to transform the “Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá” into a serial property under the name of “Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panamá”. The World Heritage Committee (Decision 43 COM 8B.40) deferred the request and asked for a resubmission. The Nomination was resubmitted in January 2023, and in March 2023 the World Heritage Centre confirmed the completeness check of the Nomination and sent it to ICOMOS for evaluation.

On 25 November 2022, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/790/documents/ and addresses the inscribed World Heritage property, taking as the baseline for the analysis the current Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) (Decision 37 COM 8E). Progress on a number of measures requested by the Committee at its previous sessions is presented, as follows:

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

The State Party reports on some important advances, including the approval of the Land Use Plan for the District of Panamá, progress made on the inclusion of the HIA in the planning process, and the improved state of conservation of the buildings of the Historic District. However, some of the points mentioned in the report are not new (e.g., the Plan of the City Centre and the Project for Waste Recycling). Determining the differences between its previously reported state of conservation is difficult. Also, many of the points mentioned either lack detailed information or give only detailed information, without a summary to highlight the relevant points.

On several occasions the report refers to the new Management Plan for the “Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panamá”, for which the revised Nomination/Significant Boundary Modification was submitted in 2023. This Management Plan will contain sections on Natural Disaster and Risk Management as well as Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation for the entire Transisthmian Route. Parts of this draft document are included in the State Party’s 2022 report. However, it is difficult to judge the impact on the property discussed here, without evaluating the finished document.

A map taken from the Land Use Plan for the District of Panamá mentions a new buffer zone for the Historic District, but the changes to the previous or current buffer zone are not discussed in the state of conservation document. It is also unclear if the height restrictions that the Land Use Plan introduces have a bearing on the ongoing construction projects of the buildings with 12 floors that, as the report states, "may cause visual impacts".

Even though there are, as mentioned above, important advances concerning the legal protection and management of the site, many of these issues are pending final approval or sufficient regulation in order to become operative. It has to be recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed many of these processes down, but it is of great importance to finalize them as soon as possible.

The report makes no mention of how the re-Nomination/Significant Boundary Modification will affect all of the above-mentioned issues, and how it will address the impact on the World Heritage values caused by the maritime viaduct that encircles the Historic District. It is to be hoped that the significant boundary modification document will refocus the work on this property and show a clear way forward.

Decision Adopted: 45 COM 7B.116

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/23/45.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 44 COM 7B.168 adopted at its extended 44th session (Fuzhou/online, 2021),
  3. Notes that the State Party submitted a nomination dossier that would transform the sites into component parts of a serial property under the name of “Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panamá” to the World Heritage Centre;
  4. Requests the State Party to provide reports on:
    1. The status of all planned, ongoing or recently finalized construction projects,
    2. The way these projects are affected by the new legal and planning framework,
    3. Their (potential) impact on the newly defined values of the property components within the framework of the “Colonial Transisthmian Route of Panamá”;
  5. Also requests a detailed account of the state of conservation of the main elements of the two property components, with a clear definition of baseline data to which any changes can be compared and evaluated;
  6. Urges the State Party to finalize the processes necessary to make new laws, plans (Decision 44 COM 7B.168, paragraphs 7 a-d) and programmes operative and further requests a report on the advances;
  7. 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, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 47th session.