Documents Decisions of the World Heritage Committee Decisions adopted at the 36th Session (St.-Petersburg, 2012)

Lake Baikal (Russian Federation) (N 754)

Draft Decision: 36 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.23, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),
  3. Notes with serious concern that the permit for operation of the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM) has been extended to 2015 without adequate measures being in place to address the problem of waste water discharged into the lake, recalls the State Party’s commitment made at the 34th session (Brasilia, 2010), to develop and implement a closed-loop water system by December 2012;
  4. Requests the State Party, in the event that the required investment for the closed-loop water system is not secured by December 2012, to close the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill (BPPM), and considers that the continued operation of BPPM without adequate measures in place to address the considerable negative environmental impacts would represent a clear ascertained danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value as defined in paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Welcomes the State Party’s efforts to develop alternatives for the socio-economic development of the town of Baikalsk and its surroundings, but also considers that as long as an adequate solution to the environmental impacts resulting from the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mill is pending, the effectiveness of these efforts is likely to be limited;
  6. Further considers changes in the Baikal special law which would allow for the development of mineral deposits inside the Central Ecological Zone would represent a clear potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines and reiterates its established position that mining is incompatible with World Heritage status;
  7. Also requeststhe State Party to implement the 2011 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN reactive monitoring mission recommendations, in particular to:

    a) assist BPPM in obtaining as a matter of urgency the required investment to effectively implement the closed-loop water treatment system and to ensure that this investment is used for this purpose and not for enhancing the existing production system,

    b) continue the effective implementation of a long-term alternative livelihoods strategy for the town of Baikalsk,

    c) develop, under the umbrella of the Special Law for Baikal, an integrated management plan and land-use planning for this World Heritage property that fully considers all proposed projects, including the mega-project proposed for the development of a Special Economic Zone for tourism in Buryatia, to ensure that they are implemented in a way that is compatible with the Otstanding Universal Value and conditions of integrity of this property. Such an integrated management plan should also consider options to address the impact associated to the pollution coming into the lake from the Angara and the Selenga rivers;

  8. Expresses its concern about the potential direct and indirect environmental impacts from the development of the “Baikal Harbour" Special Economic Zone for tourism and further requests the State Party to submit an Environmental Impact Assesment, including an assessment of potential impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property, to the World Heritage Centre in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Expresses its utmost concern about Federal Law No. 365-FZ dated 30 November 2011, which significantly weakens the protection status of Strict Nature Reserves and therefore could affect the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties in the Russian Federation and also reiterates its request to the State Party to take appropriate legal measures to maintain a high level protection of the World Heritageproperties on its territory, in accordance with Paragraph 15(f) of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Recommends that all legal issues concerning natural properties in the Russian Federation, which are composed of federal and regional protected areas, be addressed through a comprehensive national legal framework for the protection and management of natural World Heritage properties in order to ensure the fulfillment of the State Party's obligations under the Convention and requests furthermore the State Party to convene a high-level workshop to assist in developing such a framework, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  11. Requests moreover the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of all component protected areas of the property, including Zabaikalskiy and Pribaikalskiy National Parks, as well as on the implementation of the points noted above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.