1.         Gal├ípagos Islands (Ecuador) (N 1bis)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1978

Criteria  (vii)(viii)(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/1/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 567,850
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 3.5 million

Previous monitoring missions

UNESCO-IUCN mission (including Chairperson) June 1996; UNESCO mission June 2003; UNESCO informal visit April 2005; UNESCO-IUCN mission February-March 2006; UNESCO-IUCN mission (including Chairperson) April 2007

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

a) Inadequate implementation of the Special Law on Galapagos and lack of enforcement;

b) Poor governance;

c) Inadequate and ineffective quarantine measures;

d) Illegal fishing;

e) Instability of Park Director’s position;

f) High immigration rate;

g) Unsustainable tourism development;

h) Educational reform not implemented.

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2007

As requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006) and at the invitation of the State Party, a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN mission, including the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, visited the Galapagos Islands from 8 to 13 April 2007. The mission participated in the multi-stakeholder meeting organised by the State Party, as requested by the Committee, held discussions with various stakeholders and on that basis, assessed the state of conservation of the property.

The mission noted that all the factors affecting the property, which were described comprehensively in the 2006 UNESCO/IUCN mission report continue to be relevant and of concern, and that none of the 15 specific issues listed in Decision 30 COM 7B.29 had been addressed by the State Party. On the contrary there were clear indications that the situation was getting worse, as exemplified by the following:

a) On 17th March 2007 the Galapagos National Park Director and her staff were assaulted by members of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces stationed on Baltra Island, while carrying out their responsibilities of enforcing park regulations;

b) An additional entry point to the Islands has been created with the commissioning of an airport on Isabella Island;

c) The number of commercial flights to Galapagos, each a potential agent for the introduction of harmful alien species, has nearly doubled since 2001, while at the same time, the number of quarantine agents and phytosanitary inspectors mandated to reduce the risk of alien species introduction has reportedly diminished by 20%;

d) The World Heritage Centre has received reports of large-scale illegal cutting of protected mangroves forests on Isabella Island, under municipal government patronage.

Multi-stakeholder meeting:

The multi-stakeholder meeting which was held on Santa Cruz Island on 9 April 2007, to advance the development of the vision 2020 for Galapagos process, also highlighted a number of continuing problems, as follows:

a) The piece-meal approach to regional planning, the lack of inter-agency coordination, and the continuing lack of political will, leadership and authority is proving inimical to the development and effective implementation of a common vision for Galapagos. It is also a limiting factor in the full application and enforcement of the Special Law for Galapagos. Consequently, there is a weakening of institutions, conflicts over jurisdiction and generally a lack of effective governance.

b) The risks from alien invasive species are rapidly increasing, mainly as a result of increased visitation, while the Agricultural Health Service of Ecuador (SESA) and the and Inspection and Quarantine System for Galapagos (SICGAL) has inadequate staff and capacity to deal with the nature and scale of the problem. As there is no practice of fumigating aircraft and ships, SICGAL estimates that 779 invertebrates entered the islands through aircraft in 2006.

c) The rapid growth of the tourism sector is haphazard and unsustainable and some activities, such as sport fishing, have been promoted and implemented despite the fact that the exisiting regulatorry framework does not provide for such activities. Tourism is also not equitable and much of the benefits do not accrue to the local communities. There was a 26% increase in planes and 15% in ships arriving to the islands in 2006. Other reports indicate that in the past 15 years, the number of cruise ship passenger days has increased by 150%, and the number of hotels has doubled. It is this gowth that fuels immigration to the islands, which in turn leads to inter-island traffic, exacerbating the already very serious threat from introduced species.

d) Despite clear laws restricting migration to Galapagos, the National Institute for Galapagos (INGALA) is unable to control the arrival of illegal immigrants, as there is no effective migratory control system at all of the entry points. While the population growth rate in continental Ecuador is 2.1%, it is 6.1% in the Galapagos Islands, with the population doubling every 10 years. About 20% of the resident population is reported to be illegal immigrants. This is putting pressure on the limited civic services, facilities and natural resources.

e) The staff of the National Park and Marine Reserve lack job security, stability of tenure, and the capacity and facilities for effective law enforcement.

f) The education system has not been reformed as required under the Special Law for Galapagos, and as yet does not incorporate elements of environmental management and heritage preservation, and natural resources conservation development, further delaying the critical need to develop an insular culture focused on sustainable development.

Following the multi-stakeholder meeting, the Ministry of Environment prepared and submitted (on 24 April 2007 and in Spanish) to the World Heritage Centre a report of the meeting, and a table (hereafter referred to as the ‘action plan’) showing the activities proposed to be undertaken in relation to each of the 15 issues listed in Decision 30 COM 7B.29, the time-frame for their completion, the indicators to measure progress, and the institutions responsible for implementing these activities. Additionally, the action plan includes specific activities proposed for the Agriculture and Health sectors.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that this action plan, with indicators and time-frames constitutes the programme of corrective measures to overcome many of the serious threats confronting the property, and can also be used as a tool for monitoring the progress of implementation.

Decree issued by the President of Ecuador

While the joint mission was in the Galapagos Islands on 10 April 2007, the President of Ecuador issued a Decree declaring the conservation and environmental management of the Galapagos archipelago ecosystem in a state of risk and national priority. The Decree requires the Governor of the Galapagos Province to convene a meeting of the INGALA Council within 15 days to address and make policies on the following issues:

a) To determine the current status of conservation, development and health (sanitation) of the archipelago and its marine reserve;

b) To determine the efficacy of the total control of introduced species;

c) To study the possibility of temporarily suspending the issuance of new tourism patents and air operation permits;

d) To study the possibility of temporarily suspending residence permits;

e) To prioritise compliance with the provisions of Articles 4 (functions of INGALA) and 6 (powers of the INGALA Council) of the Special Law for Galapagos;

f) To coordinate fulfillment of the powers and responsibilities of each of the institutions with activities in the Galapagos province;

g) To order the performance of the population census on the archipelago and devolution to the continent of inhabitants living illegally on the islands.

The Presidential Decree also calls upon the SESA-SICGAL, in coordination with the Ministry of the Environment, to submit within 30 days a proposal for the eradication of the primary introduced species and the financial and technical requirements to do so. It also orders the Ministry of Economy and Finance to allocate the financial resources required to enforce the decree and any resolutions made on the status of the Galapagos province by the INGALA Board, the Ministry of Environment, SESA, SICGAL, and the Ministry for the Coordination of Internal and External Security (CIES).

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the Galapagos Islands World Heritage property is clearly plagued by several dangers, as clearly assessed during the mission, which are adversely impacting its outstanding universal values and integrity, and therefore, recommend that it be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 31 COM 7B.35

The World Heritage Committee,

1.       Having examined Document WHC-07/31.COM/7B,

2.       Recalling Decision 30 COM 7B.29, adopted at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006),

3.       Notes that the serious threats identified in the previous missions have intensified;

4.       Commends the State Party of Ecuador, for the decisive action taken through the Presidential Decree issued on 10 April 2007 declaring the conservation and environmental management of the Galapagos ecosystem in a state of risk and national priority, and outlining an agenda to systematically address the various factors affecting the state of conservation of the property;

5.       Appeals to the international donor and conservation community to work with the Government of Ecuador in a fully coordinated and complementary manner to support the effective and urgent implementation of the reform agenda outlined in the Presidential Decree, as prioritised in the recommendations of the World Heritage Centre / IUCN mission of 2006 and encourages the State Party to arrange a donor's conference with the objective of identifying and coordinating support for the conservation of the property under a common conservation framework;          

6.       Reminds States Parties of their obligation under Article 6.3 of the World Heritage Convention not to take any deliberate measures which might damage World Heritage properties situated on the territory of other States Parties;

7.       Takes note of the comprehensive action plan developed by the Ministry of Environment of Ecuador to deal with the 15 issues highlighted by the Committee in its Decision 30 COM 7B.29 and strongly recommends that its implementation be harmonised and coordinated with the process outlined in the Presidential Decree;

8.       Encourages the State Party to assess the structure, finances and operations of the Galapagos National Park Service, with the objective of ensuring that it is well positioned to carry out its full range of responsibilities;

9.       Requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre by 1 November 2007 on progress made in implementing the agenda outlined in the Presidential Decree, and a plan of action for completing all the decreed actions;

10.     Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008 a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, a draft statement of desired state of conservation and  a comprehensive report on the state of conservation of the property, including the implementation of the corrective measures identified in the action plan, and the various measures tasked by the Presidential Decree, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 32nd session in 2008;

11.     Decides to inscribe the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) in the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 31 COM 8C.1

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/7B, WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add and WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add.2) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/8B.Add.Rev),

2. Decides to inscribe the following property on the List of World Heritage in Danger:


Decision Adopted: 31 COM 8C.11

The World Heritage Committee,

1.Following the examination of the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/7B, WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add and WHC-07/31.COM/7B.Add.2) and of proposals for inscription of properties on the World Heritage List (WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/8B.Add.Rev),

2.Decides to inscribe the following property on the List of World Heritage in Danger: