Lower Valley of the Omo (Ethiopia) (C 17)

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The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.48, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Acknowledges the details provided by the State Party in its report on the recently signed three-year European Union-funded project entitled “Promoting the Contribution of World Heritage for Sustainable Development and Reinforcing Capacities for Protection and Conservation of Paleontological Sites in Ethiopia”, which will consider boundaries, and conservation and management of the property;
  4. Notes that documentation submitted by the State Party did not provide clear and precise information on the exact location of the Ethiopian Sugar Development Corporation Project (Kuraz project), even though this was requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in 2014;
  5. Appreciates, however, that the State Party recently submitted a document to the World Heritage Centre with an official map showing the exact location of the Ethiopian Sugar Development Corporation Project (Kuraz project) vis-à-vis the Lower Valley of the Omo World Heritage property;
  6. Welcomes the revision of the initial plan of sugarcane area from 175,000 ha to 100,000 by the State Party in order to mitigate possible impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property;
  7. Notes with concern that work on infrastructure and agricultural projects associated with the Kuraz project, including sugar plantations, dams, roads and new villages, have already commenced without submitting adequate impact assessments, and without clarification of the property’s boundaries;
  8. Requests the State Party to ensure the following work has been undertaken and considered by the Committee:
    1. Provision of full details of the Kuraz project by 31 December 2016,
    2. Clarification of the boundaries and submission of proposals for a buffer zone,
    3. Finalization and submission of an improved Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) based on the clarified boundary and the precise attributes of the OUV,
    4. Provision of the details of the proposed relocation of pastoral communities;
  9. Takes note of the results of the April 2015 Reactive Monitoring mission and urges the State Party to implement its recommendations, particularly the following:
    1. Protect the scientific value and potential of the property, as envisaged at the time of inscription, by clearly defining areas of archaeological potential and defining strategies for its management as a visually coherent landscape with no development between visible outcrops,
    2. Consider adequate visitor and risk management components in the management plan for the intended paleo-tourism activities at the property,
    3. Promote local community involvement in both site management and tourism,
    4. Establish a soil erosion monitoring baseline to define control measures where erosion could pose a threat to fossil-bearing deposits,
    5. Define protocols for back-filling and rehabilitation of open research excavation areas and include an obligation for consolidation of new open areas for all new archaeological research projects,
    6. Establish a soil salinization monitoring baseline in areas of planned irrigation outside the property to monitor and address potential impacts on down gradient fossil-bearing deposits and outcrops;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, a report on the state of conservation of the property, and on the steps taken to implement the above-mentioned recommendations, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
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