1.         Historic Centre of Macao (China) (C 1110)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (ii)(iii)(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/1110/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1110/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1110/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008

On 26 August 2007, the World Heritage Centre was informed through various sources, including a group of citizens who are living in Macao Special Administrative Region (Macao SAR), China, that some on-going development projects in the Historic Centre of Macao, involving high-rise buildings, were affecting the visual integrity of the property, notably the setting of the Guia Lighthouse, which has been serving Macao since 1865 sitting on top of the Guia Hill, at some 90 meters above the sea level. A detailed report about these developments, prepared by a group of professionals from Macao, was also received by the World Heritage Centre and transmitted to ICOMOS for its review and comments. According to this report, the new constructions (allegedly reaching a height of 135 meters) would be obscuring the view of the Lighthouse from the sea, thus undermining its very function and character as a landmark of the City.

In view of the above, the Director of the World Heritage Centre, by letter dated 19 September 2007, requested the State Party to “consider this expression of concern and take urgent measures to examine the pressing issue so as to protect and if necessary halt any irreversible damage which may be experienced by the property”. The World Heritage Centre further requested the State Party to submit any relevant information on the state of conservation and development pressures facing this property.

On 11 March 2008, the World Heritage Centre received a letter from the Deputy Secretary-General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, enclosing a report prepared by the Director of Cultural Affairs Bureau of Macao SAR Government.

The report reiterated the Macao SAR Government’s determination to protect the values of the property and adhere to its obligations under the World Heritage Convention. It confirmed that the development projects, which are subject of the enquiry, are situated in two specific areas outside the buffer zone and comply with the legislation existing at the time of inscription of the property.

However, considering the concerns expressed by members of its community as well as UNESCO, the State Party had decided to review the existing building regulations in the areas surrounding the property with an aim to mitigate potential negative impacts of development projects. These new regulations concerned in particular the areas outside buffer zone 2 surrounding the Guia Lighthouse and Monte Fortress, another site which lies in buffer zone 1, where lower building height limits were established. Accordingly, the high-rise constructions that had raised concern in the vicinity of the Guia Lighthouse would be reduced. A map was enclosed with the State Party’s report identifying the newly proposed land-use regulations.

The State Party also pointed out that these additional limitations, and the reduction in the scope of the ongoing construction projects, constituted an “utmost effort” towards conservation in the socio-economic context of the territory of Macao which covers only 8.7 square kilometers with a population exceeding half a million and record development rates.

The World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS welcome the rapid response of the Macao SAR Government to the concerns expressed by the community as well as the measures it has taken to mitigate possible negative impacts of development projects on the visual integrity of the World Heritage property. At the same time, considering also the complex topography of the site, they consider that a reactive monitoring mission to the property is necessary to determine the appropriateness of these new regulations with respect to future possible development proposals.

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


Decision Adopted: 32 COM 7B.68

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-08/32.COM/7B,

2. Noting with concern that development projects are being implemented or proposed in areas surrounding the buffer zones of the property, which might have a negative impact on its visual integrity,

3. Welcomes the measures taken by the State Party of China to mitigate possible negative impacts of development projects on the visual integrity of the World Heritage property by reducing height limits for construction in sensitive areas surrounding the Guia Hill and the Monte Fortress ;

4. Requests the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS, to develop a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value including the conditions of integrity and authenticity, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009;

5. Also requests however the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to determine whether the above mentioned measures are adequate to ensure the long term protection of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, and to provide advice on defining the setting of the property and any possible revision of the boundary of the buffer zone which might be required;

6. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2009, an updated report on the progress made in implementing the measures mentioned above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in 2009.