JUL 2019: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s largest and most authoritative environmental network, and an advisory body for the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. It recommends placing the Ohrid Region on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to numerous threats.

Here is its speech to the 43rd Session of the World Heritage Committee in Baku during 2019.

IUCN recalls the 2017 Reactive Monitoring Mission to the property which observed the presence of numerous threats to Lake Ohrid’s aquatic environment, including uncontrolled discharge and pollution due to inadequate wastewater treatment systems, heavy pressures from tourism, extensive uncontrolled urban development, and inappropriate exploitation of the coastal zones.

As already highlighted by ICOMOS, following the conclusion of the mission that the overall State of Conservation of the property was increasingly vulnerable, the [World Heritage] Committee at its 41st Session concluded that if the mission’s priority recommendations were not implemented within a two-year framework, the property may face potential danger.

Some of the issues facing the property had already been noted with concern even at previous Committee decisions. At its 40th Session, the Committee further noted that the Railway Corridor VIII and highway A2 were likely to cause potentially significant negative impacts on the OUV [Outstanding Universal Value] of the property and considered that these projects appeared to represent a potential danger to the property’s OUV.

IUCN concurs with the view of ICOMOS that no significant progress has been achieved in addressing these threats and that the majority of the Committee’s requests and mission recommendations remain to be fulfilled.

In conclusion, IUCN considers that these numerous threats combined with the continued lack of key management systems and processes and planning documents combined also with large-scale infrastructure and development projects represent a clear case of potential danger to the property.

It is considered that the property meets the criteria for inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger in line with Paragraphs 178, 179 and 180 of the Operation Guidelines and it is recommended that the Committee therefore inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

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