In conjunction with a meeting of Advisory Bodies of the World Heritage Committee, and in partnership with our network of indigenous peoples’ and civil society organizations,World Heritage Watch is organizing the
8th International NGO Forum on World Heritage in Paris, France, in January 2020
World Heritage Designation Can Protect Rivers from Destruction by Dams
World Heritage Watch and the Rivers without Boundaries Coalition present the final complete version of the “Heritage Dammed” Report, dedicated to the protection of natural freshwater ecosystems. This colorful report contains contributions from 30 civil society organizations (CSOs), experts and dam-affected communities around the world.
The Report documents how water infrastructure plays a key role in degrading aquatic ecosystems at more than 50 World Heritage properties, of which 42 sites are threatened by hydropower. Fourteen in-depth case studies illustrate and analyze the global threat to the rivers, lakes and World Heritage, in various regions ranging from the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania to the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, from the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra to the Upper Svaneti in Georgia. Urgent need for conservation of intact freshwater ecosystems is illustrated by six examples of still free-flowing rivers: the Congo, Mekong, Vjosa, Greater Zab, Amur and Karnali. The Report contains recommendations set forth by CSOs on how to protect the natural and cultural values of freshwater ecosystems in the context of the World Heritage Convention and beyond its scope. Last chapters present most recent evidence on broader spectrum of problems associated with unsustainable hydropower development.
The intended audience of the document includes officials of the UN and other international organizations, expert community, financiers of development projects, water management and energy system planners, civil society leaders and university students.
The draft report was presented at the “World Heritage and hydropower” session of the World Hydropower Congress inviting hydropower companies and financiers to discuss these pressing issues.
We are planning to present the Report to the World Heritage Committee Members at their meeting in Baku in July 2019.
Together with the French people and the world
we mourn the loss of a priceless creation of human genius and a world heritage. The many expressions of grief we have received from people all around the world show us that Notre Dame actually is a common heritage of mankind not only on paper but one which is shared in the hearts of the people.
The tragic fire and the irreplaceable loss should remind us all how fragile our heritage is, and especially those who feel that one can compromise it for short-term interests should now think twice. We will all remain with a deep sense of loss and tragedy, and I am sure that those in Europe now will have a better sense of understanding what it means to the people when cultural heritage is destroyed in places more far from us.
May this moment, which will be remembered in history, be a call to the world to increase our efforts for the protection and safeguarding of our common heritage.
The President and Board of World Heritage Watch
World Heritage Watch is an independent non-governmental organization founded in 2014. We promote the preservation of UNESCO World Heritage worldwide. We watch that World Heritage is protected and maintained, and not sacrificed to political compromises and economic interests.
We support UNESCO in obtaining complete and accurate information about the situation of World Heritage sites. And we help local people to protect their sites and to derive an adequate benefit from them.
The sites that have been added to the list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage are the world’s most valuable monuments, the most significant historical cities, the most beautiful landscapes and the most breathtaking ecosystems and natural wonders. Because they are the most significant places on the planet to learn about people and nature, the community of nations has decided to protect them by binding international law.
However, a growing number of world heritage sites are endangered by development pressure, mass tourism, armed conflict, resource extraction, climate change, or construction activities, and by neglect and poor management. Recognition has grown that the more than 1000 UNESCO World Heritage Sites cannot be monitored and protected in the long run without the active involvement of civil society.