World Heritage Committee Decisions in 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012
Fishing boat by Lake Turkana
Fishing boat by Lake Turkana

Below are summaries of all the decisions made on dam-threatened World Heritage Sites that were discussed at this year's 36th Session of the World Heritage Committee. It starts with four sites with which we and are partners have been actively involved, and continues with a list of other dam-threatened sites.

Download the full decisions

Lake Turkana National Parks (Kenya)

  • While the Committee recognizes that Gibe III, IV and V dams represent clear potential threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, it nevertheless decided not to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger until the completion of a mission to Ethiopia.
  • Urges Ethiopia to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN monitoring mission, but gives no deadline.
  • Urges both countries to conduct bilateral talks and conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the cumulative impacts.
  • Requests again that Ethiopia halts construction of the Gibe III Dam until an SEA is completed.
  • Notes a number of other issues regarding oil exploration, poaching, fishing and livestock grazing.
  • Requests that Ethiopia and Kenya submit to the Centre by 1 Feb 2013 information on negotiations concerning Gibe III.

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)

  • Considers the Patuca III Dam as not a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property based on the submitted Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Urges Panama to redraw the boundaries to reflect the increased size and to take into account the Patuca III Dam.
  • Main focus of the decision is on monitoring of the property for illegal activity.
  • Decides to retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, and requests Panama to submit a state of conservation report by 1 Feb 2013.

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (Costa Rica / Panama)

  • Panama did not invite a reactive monitoring mission as requested last year by the Committee. The Committee expresses concern regarding the Bonyic Dam and requests that Panama put in mitigation measures at Chan-75 and Bonyic dams to overcome barriers to aquatic species migration, as well as a long-term monitoring program.
  • Requests that both countries submit the SEA once its completed. Also requests that both countries invite an IUCN monitoring mission before the 37th session in 2013 in order to assess the threats posted by dam building in Panama and existing/potential dams in Costa Rica (as well as mining, road projects, cattle grazing, etc).
  • Requests both countries to submit to the Centre a state of conservation report by 1 Feb 2013.
  • Will consider inscribing the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger if the ascertained or potential threats above are confirmed.

Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area (China)

  • Requests that China submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 Dec 2012 a detailed list and maps of all proposed dams that could affect the property, as well as the EIAs.
  • Urges China not to proceed with any site preparation works for proposed dams without an approved EIA.
  • Requests that China invite IUCN for a monitoring mission.
  • Requests that China submit a state of conservation report by 1 Feb 2013 that covers progress in undertaking a SEA of all proposed dams and ancillary development.


Alto Douro Wine Region (Portugal): ICOMOS recommended that the Foz Tua Hydro-electric Dam Project might pose a threat to the site. Portugal has agreed to slow down construction and submit a revised plan of the project.

Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Iraq): A site that covers the Tigris River and is on the List of World Heritage in Danger, it may be negatively impacted by the Makhool Dam upstream. An EIA has been requested.

Dja Wildlife Reserve (Cameroon): Mining and oil exploration licenses have been granted, and the Mekin Dam may have serious impacts. If the Mekin Dam is not suspended, the Committee may inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (Thailand): The Committee calls for the halt of construction at the Huay Samong Dam; might inscribe the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Iguaçu National Park (Brazil): A shared site with Iguazu park in Argentina, it is threatened by the Baixo Iguaçu Hydroelectric Project. The Committee urges Brazil to not authorize the project.

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation): May be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger next year largely due to a polluting paper mill.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (India): Bhutans' Mangdechhu hydro-electric project, which is proposed, may have negative impacts and cumulative impacts in relation to the existing Kurichu Dam.

Mosi-oa-Tunya / Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe): Zambia has agreed to limit the dry-season diversion of water from the falls for hydro-electric power generation.

Selous Game Reserve (United Republic of Tanzania): The proposed Stiegler’s Gorge and Kidunda dams are likely to have irreversible impacts on the property. If permits are issued for these dams, the Committee may inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.