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Medina of Sousse

Tunisia
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 15 March 2021, the World Heritage Centre informed the State Party that the property would be subject to a report on its state of conservation to be presented at the extended 44th session of the Committee, due to concerns about the conservation of the property. On 8 April 2021, the State Party submitted a report, available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/498/documents/, providing the following information:

  • Several actors are involved in the management of the property, including the National Heritage Institute (INP), the Agency for the Heritage Valorisation and Cultural Promotion (AMVPPC), the Municipality of the City of Sousse, the Agency for Urban Rehabilitation and Renovation (ARRU), the Association for the Safeguarding of the Medina of Sousse (ASM) and civil society;
  • The urban development plan of the City of Sousse defines the traditional urban fabric, and sets out regulations for construction and development within the property and its buffer zone;
  • Potential threats have been identified in relation to the absence of a safeguarding and valorisation plan (PSMV), lack of coordination, absence of a consultation framework concerning interventions, urban pressure and densification, social and economic factors, visual impact on the integrity of the property, loss of traditional knowledge, and alteration of building elements and materials;
  • The INP carries out regular surveys and inspections to ensure the protection of monuments and traditional fabric. Building permits are reviewed and granted on a case by case basis and upon approval of three bodies. The number of building violations increased after the 2011 revolution, but these are being treated;
  • Restoration projects were carried out between 2006 and 2008 by the INP on the Great Mosque, the Ribat, the Kasbah and the ramparts. Restoration of zawiyas were also undertaken between 2013 and 2017. Other planned projects include Sidi Ali Ammar Mosque and the synagogue on rue de France;
  • A pilot project for the rehabilitation of façades was carried out by ARRU, in collaboration with INP, ASM, and the municipality, with funding support from the French Development Agency (AFD);
  • The Archaeological Museum of Sousse has been renovated and opened in 2012, and tourist itineraries have been established;
  • Information was provided about the protection and valorisation plan (PSMV), currently under preparation;
  • The Islamic World Heritage Committee of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) registered the synagogue of Sousse as a heritage site during its Extraordinary Meeting in December 2019.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

The management of the property is governed by the urban development plan of the City of Sousse. Land use, urban development, and procedures for building permits are being regulated. Many buildings within the property have been classified as historical monuments, and several restoration projects have been undertaken at the Great Mosque, Kasbah, ramparts and other buildings, in addition to actions related to awareness raising and tourism promotion. Despite these efforts, the State Party has reported on increased violations since 2011, which are nevertheless being treated.

The efforts undertaken by the State Party and its agencies are acknowledged. However, there are potential threats in relation to urban pressure and densification of the historic urban fabric, an increase of land speculation, changes in vocation of dwellings, among other factors. Many of the inhabitants have relocated and there is loss of traditional knowledge. Potential visual impact on the integrity of the property has also been reported. The State Party has launched urban studies for the elaboration  of the safeguarding and valorisation plan (PSMV) which would become a reference document for the protection, management and development of the property. It is recommended to pursue the finalization and adoption of the PSMV as a matter of priority, in order to allow for its implementation. This would ensure the adequate conservation and management of the property, including tourism management, and contribute to effective coordination among stakeholders. It is also recommended for the State Party to seek mechanisms and opportunities to integrate the PSMV into the urban development plan of the City of Sousse, and to address the management and conservation of the property in an integrated and coordinated manner, and in line with 2011 Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL). The Committee may wish to encourage the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory mission to the property to advise and discuss with the relevant authorities the steps to define a comprehensive framework, which is important to support the effective implementation of the PSMV, and the execution of actions to improve the state of conservation of the property, including the implementation of regulations to mitigate urban development pressure in the buffer zone.

It is also recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to submit information on any major project, to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are made, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.138
Medina of Sousse (Tunisia) (C 498bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Acknowledges the State Party’s efforts in the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the property;
  3. Notes with concern the potential threats posed to the property due to the absence of a safeguarding and valorisation plan (PSMV) and coordination, absence of a consultation framework concerning interventions, urban pressure and densification, social and economic factors, visual impact on the integrity of the property, loss of traditional knowledge, and alteration of building elements and materials;
  4. Requests the State Party to finalise, adopt and implement the PSMV in order to ensure the conservation and management of the property, including tourism management, and coordination among stakeholders;
  5. Also requests the State Party to seek mechanisms and opportunities to integrate the PSMV into the urban development plan of the City of Sousse to address the management and conservation of the property in an integrated and coordinated manner, and in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape;
  6. Encourages the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory mission to the property, as soon as conditions allow, to provide advice and discuss with all relevant authorities and stakeholders the steps to define a comprehensive framework to redress conservation and management issues and ensure the sustenance of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligation to submit information on major projects to the World Heritage Centre, in compliance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are made;
  8. Further Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.138

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Acknowledges the State Party’s efforts in the protection, conservation and rehabilitation of the property;
  3. Notes with concern the potential threats posed to the property due to the absence of a safeguarding and valorisation plan (PSMV) and coordination, absence of a consultation framework concerning interventions, urban pressure and densification, social and economic factors, visual impact on the integrity of the property, loss of traditional knowledge, and alteration of building elements and materials;
  4. Requests the State Party to finalise, adopt and implement the PSMV in order to ensure the conservation and management of the property, including tourism management, and coordination among stakeholders;
  5. Also requests the State Party to seek mechanisms and opportunities to integrate the PSMV into the urban development plan of the City of Sousse to address the management and conservation of the property in an integrated and coordinated manner, and in line with the 2011 UNESCO Recommendation on the Historic Urban Landscape;
  6. Encourages the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Advisory mission to the property, as soon as conditions allow, to provide advice and discuss with all relevant authorities and stakeholders the steps to define a comprehensive framework to redress conservation and management issues and ensure the sustenance of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligation to submit information on major projects to the World Heritage Centre, in compliance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the Advisory Bodies before any irreversible decisions are made;
  8. Further Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Tunisia
Date of Inscription: 1988
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(v)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2021) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.