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World Heritage Convention

Decision 39 COM 7B.28
Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (Costa Rica/Panama) (N 205bis)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 37 COM 7B.30, adopted at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013),
  3. Commends the States Parties for the progress achieved in strengthening transboundary cooperation and reducing the threats to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) originating from encroachment of agriculture and cattle grazing and potential road construction;
  4. Strongly regrets that, despite the Committee’s previous decisions, construction of the Bonyic dam has been completed without prior consideration of the results of a comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and urges the States Parties to develop such an assessment as a matter of priority, based on the results of the preliminary SEA completed in 2012, and in consultation with IUCN, if necessary;
  5. Notes with concern the impacts on freshwater biodiversity in at least two watersheds (Changuinola and Bonyic), and requests the State Party of Panama to ensure that the results of the developed monitoring programmes guide adequate measures to minimize biodiversity loss;
  6. Considers that any development of new hydropower projects prior to the finalization and adequate review of the SEA would lead to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  7. Also notes with concern that a new hydropower project on the Changuinola river (Chan II) was approved in 2013 which the States Parties report would result in further cumulative impacts on both aquatic and terrestrial fauna and implies risks of social conflicts with local communities and, noting the reported current review and reconsideration of the project following the proposed changes in its design, also urges the State Party of Panama not to resume this project, until:
    1. the SEA for the property has been completed to guide the review of the project,
    2. the project has been subject to an independent Environmental Impact Assessment, including a specific assessment of potential impacts on the OUV of the property in conformity with IUCN’s World Heritage Advice Note on Environmental Assessment,
    3. due process has been ensured to achieve Free, Prior and Informed Consent by indigenous communities having territorial rights in the affected lands;
  8. Also requests the States Parties to implement all other recommendations of the 2013 IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission;
  9. Further requests the States Parties to invite an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to evaluate the progress achieved with the development of the SEA and to provide necessary technical advice and to assess the effectiveness of the mitigation measures developed for Bonyic and CHAN-75 projects;
  10. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, including an assessment of the effectiveness of the developed mitigation measures for the existing hydroelectric projects, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 40th session in 2016, with a view to considering, in case of the confirmation of ascertained or potential danger to Outstanding Universal Value, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015)
Context of Decision