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Slippery Slope of Transboundary/Transnational Nominations

 
Author winterkjm
Partaker
#1 | Posted: 7 Jun 2015 03:55 | Edited by: winterkjm 
"Allowing the examination of two nominations per State Party at each session (together with the possibility to increase them to three taking into account the exemption for transboundary or serial transnational nominations that count only under one State Party’s quota) increases the gap between most and less represented States Parties on the World Heritage List and thus, does not allow any improvement of the geographical distribution of new nominations." - Operational Guidelines 39th Session

When looking at the extensive list of WHS & TWHS in Europe that are either Transboundary or Transnational, one cannot fail to recognize how these nominations have benefited Europe far more than any other region. Indeed, I suspect there are less transboundary/transnational WHS in all other continents combined in comparison to Europe. While there has been recent inscriptions, such as the Silk Road and Qhapac Nan that are encouraging. Nevertheless, this scheme has frankly been used far too often to inscribe sites that failed on their own, or as a "tag along" component to more representative sites.

There are certainly some factors that contribute to Europe's success and inclination to bring forward transboundary/transnational nominations. These are the formation of the European Union, a very small geographic area with many countries, and Several OECD countries in one region. Anyone at UNESCO should have been able to see that this would tilt even more the geographic balance of the world heritage list toward Europe. Indeed when will China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam ever nominate a Transnational site? What about India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal? Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras? Besides relations, the geographic challenge is hardly comparable since China/India are nearly as large as Europe, and the ability for developing countries to successfully meet all dossier requirements are often insurmountable.

Current European WHS (Transboundary/Transnational)
Belfries of Belgium and France
Wooden Tserkvas of the Carpathian Region
Fertö / Neusiedlersee Cultural Landscape
Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes
Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski
Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde
Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst
Pyrénées - Mont Perdu
Monte San Giorgio
Białowieża Forest
Curonian Spit
High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago
Frontiers of the Roman Empire (2 countries + 3 country extension coming)
Primeval Beech Forests (3 countries + 10 country extension coming)
Wadden Sea (3 countries)
Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (6 countries)
Struve Geodetic Arc (10 countries)

What's coming?
Viking Sites
Architecture of Le Corbusier
Great Spas of Europe
Stećaks - Mediaeval Tombstones
The Venetian Works of defence between 15th and 17th centuries
Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krusnohoři

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#2 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 11:53 
winterkjm:
There are certainly some factors that contribute to Europe's success and inclination to bring forward transboundary/transnational nominations. These are the formation of the European Union, a very small geographic area with many countries, and Several OECD countries in one region.

On top of that, many of these sites that are currently "Transnational" were once wholly within one political unit e.g. Austro-Hungarian Empire, Yugoslavia, Germany. The borders of European countries are somewhat fluid and nation states are just the current political set up.

If the aim is to address the geographical distribution of nominations then it is a pretty simple rule to apply. Whilst Europe has the biggest concentration of "over-represented" countries, there are plenty of others that will put forward one two or three sites every year, despite having a high number already inscribed.

Perhaps a more radical approach will be to have one meeting where only sites from countries with 0 or 1 previously inscribed sites will be put on the list. It may get countries focused on getting proposals ship shape, and MEDC countries could use their expertise too aid the under represented. I guess it could just lead to the 'normal' meetings just being packed with more sites from the over represented.

Author winterkjm
Partaker
#3 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 13:20 
I don't know why there is not a strict quota on 2 nominations. Regardless, of transnational or cultural landscapes. 1 cultural - 1 natural nomination maximum.

Author Khuft
Partaker
#4 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 15:49 
winterkjm:
I don't know why there is not a strict quota on 2 nominations. Regardless, of transnational or cultural landscapes. 1 cultural - 1 natural nomination maximum.


Well, for transnational sites, the nominating "small" country probably also benefits - if for instance the Ore Mountains are filed by the Czech Republic together with Germany, the Czechs will get an additional site inscribed with Germany probably picking half of the bill (or more).

So no-one benefits in changing the current set-up.

Author nfmungard
Partaker
#5 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 16:34 
My objection is less with transnational inscriptions. These are just a matter of fact in places like Europe, where the borders we see today have little to no resemblence to how the continent looked 200 years ago:

http://www.euratlas.net/history/europe/1800/index.html

My objection is with the endless serial inscriptions. Take "Prehistoric Pile Dwellings":

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1363/multiple=1&unique_number=1782

This feels like they had a child dot the map. Same applies to Rock Art of the Mediterranean.

I don't think it's Unesco's task to protect each and every site; state parties can do that. It should limit itself to the best representatives of a given site.

Another less prehistoric example are the proposed Le Corbusier sites. I have visited his Weißenhof Siedlung in Stuttgart. I feel rather confident this isn't his best work and it should not be inscribed. Meanwhile Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp and Chandigarh seem to deserve inscription, both probably independently. So why throw them together in the first place?

As a consequence, I would recommend limiting serial inscriptions in general and giving Unesco the authority to inscribe only parts of a proposal.

Author hubert
Partaker
#6 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 17:39 
There are 31 transboundary WHS, which is only about 3% of the total number of 1007. And not all of them are in Europe. Thus, the transboundary WHS contribute little to the geographical imbalance.
The aim should be to support less represented countries to nominate their sites. That's the crucial factor to correct the geographical imbalance.

Author Assif
Partaker
#7 | Posted: 20 Nov 2016 15:55 
winterkjm:
Essentially this means Europe will still have a major advantage in submitting more than 1 nomination per year. For example, Germany can reasonably submit 3 nominations: Hydraulic Engineering and Hydropower - Augsburg (Germany) and Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří (Germany, Czechia) and Great Spas of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Italy, UK), as long as Czechia and other nations come to "a common understanding" that the later nomination falls within their annual limit.

As winterkjm correctly points out, the exception of transnational nominations to the one nomination per state party per year will undoubtedly benefit Europe.
Nonetheless, this could also encourage non-European countries to initiate transnational nominations, as recently happened with Quapaq Nan and the Silk Roads nominations.
Currently, the great majority of transnational TWHS are in Europe. Most non-European countries do not have any transnational TWHS on their T-list. However, we might see this changing in the coming years. Winterkjm additionally convincingly argues that favourable historical, political and geographic conditions facilitate WHS cooperation in Europe compared with other parts of the world.
I would be interested to know what other forum members think of the potential of such nominations in other continents. Theoretically, natural sites should not be bound to political boundaries, yet which ideas would you bring forward? The same is true of cultural sites.

Some ideas:

1) Bering land bridge (Russia, USA) - Durian has just mentioned a IUCN report on the site, sounds fascinating.
2) Sites of polynesian expansion (an Icomos report found Polynesian agricultural practices not to be represented)
3) Mexico-USA deserts (mostly Chihuahuan Desert)
4) Andaman Sea (Myanmar, Thailand, India) - mentioned by IUCN
5) Benguela Current (an ongoing intiative involving Angola, Namibia and South Africa)
6) Hijaz Railway (Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) - The idea has already been discussed in the Forum (Solivagant)
7) Several new Silk Routes intiatives

Author winterkjm
Partaker
#8 | Posted: 20 Nov 2016 22:51 
3) Mexico-USA deserts (mostly Chihuahuan Desert)

Based on the upcoming US tentative list, the US and Mexico may soon have a transnational WHS.

Author nfmungard
Partaker
#9 | Posted: 21 Nov 2016 04:44 
Down here in South America plenty of sites are not transnational that should be, e.g. Iguacu, the Paraguay part of the missions... Indeed we have a connection for these sites.

Also when looking at the tentative sites you get the same impression. Torres del Paine could be combined with Los Glacieres, Los Alerces should be extended to the western side of the Andes... So having an incentive to use transnational sites may even do some good.

Author jonathanfr
Partaker
#10 | Posted: 21 Nov 2016 06:29 | Edited by: jonathanfr 
With the future Trump wall to cross the transboundary property...

Author jonathanfr
Partaker
#11 | Posted: 21 Nov 2016 06:29 
winterkjm:
3) Mexico-USA deserts (mostly Chihuahuan Desert)

Based on the upcoming US tentative list, the US and Mexico may soon have a transnational WHS.

With the future Trump wall to cross the transboundary property...

Author Assif
Partaker
#12 | Posted: 21 Nov 2016 17:27 | Edited by: Assif 
nfmungard:
So having an incentive to use transnational sites may even do some good.

The problem is that only countries which might be able to nominate more than one nomination a year are encouraged to get their second nomination in as a transnational nomination, so it would make sense for China, less for South American countries, which never nominate more than one nomination a year.

Author nfmungard
Partaker
#13 | Posted: 22 Nov 2016 04:40 
jonathanfr:
With the future Trump wall to cross the transboundary property...

Clear whs candidate if it gets built :)

Author vantcj1
Partaker
#14 | Posted: 24 Nov 2016 12:19 | Edited by: vantcj1 
Assif:
this could also encourage non-European countries to initiate transnational nominations

Hello, everyone. I think one clear option would be the big conservation complex that form the Tortuguero National Park and the Barra del Colorado national wildlife refuge (in Costa Rica) which together make more than 1051,33 km2 on land and 501,6 km2 on the sea and even could be inscribed on their own; and the Indio Maiz and Punta Gorda biological reserves in Nicaragua, that together have an area of 3.818 km2.

This nears the dimension of Río Plátano reserve (in Honduras) and both sides, together, they have some of the best wetlands, waterways (the famous Tortuguero Canals), extensive sandbars, deltas, river islands, huge extensions of very wet tropical forests, very old volcanic peaks, a great biodiversity (from harpy eagles, to manatees, jaguars, tapirs, spider monkeys, cocodriles, and the living fossil known as the tropical gar fish) and one of the most important nesting grounds in the world for the green sea turtles.

What stands in its way to become a joint WHS? The first factor is politics. It is well known of the invasion by the Nicaraguan army to the sector of Portillos in Costa Rica and how long it took the process in the court of The Hague to get it back. Also, the proposed Nicaraguan Cannal most probably would pass very close to the northern part of the Punta Gorda reserve, making at least difficult to incorporate it in a combined WHS. As the relations between Costa Rica and Nicaragua are subject to the neighbor country's electoral cycles, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to formulate a joint WHS, as there is continuous cooperation between the two countries in other common goals.

In other aspects, in the Costa Rican side, the upstream pollution of the watersheds that lead to Tortuguero is and has been a subject for a while, specially from heavy agrochemical-depending crops like pineapples and bananas. Drug trafficking in the very vast and almost unpopulated area poses a threat and requires continuous security presence from the police and last, though deforestation has fallen in the last decades, it still exists in the borders of these reserves.

Still, I would look forward to such an inscription, it would be a killer natural WHS.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#15 | Posted: 24 Nov 2016 15:18 | Edited by: Solivagant 
vantcj1:
the big conservation complex that form the Tortuguero National Park and the Barra del Colorado national wildlife refuge (in Costa Rica) which together make more than 1051,33 km2 on land and 501,6 km2 on the sea and even could be inscribed on their own; and the Indio Maiz and Punta Gorda biological reserves in Nicaragua, that together have an area of 3.818 km2.

Hi vantcj1,
The Indio Maiz reserve is mentioned in the description of Nicaragua's ("Mixed" OUV) T List site - "Fortress of the Immaculate Conception" which apparently covers both the castle AND (some of???) the nearby park. "a 17th century (1673) Military Campaign Fortress found within the limits of an area considered as a Biosphere Reserve (Indio-Maiz Reserve)".
We visited El Castillo in 2005 and paid a visit downstream to a small part of Indio Maiz. See my review written 6 years later ( http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/twhs.php?id=484 ) which identifies actions ongoing re the development and preservation of the CBM (Mesoamerican Biological Corridor) which encompasses all the reserves you mention and more. My conclusions at the time were that the CBM initiative would keep the involved parties going for many years without the complications of World Heritage matters! Your comments about the Costa Rican side and the ongoing tensions between CR and Nicaragua would seem to confirm that nothing much has changed. Even if all those problems were overcome it is perhaps a bit surprising that the IUCN "gap analysis" didn't seem to consider that any more examples of the area's biome were "needed" on the Inscribed list.
Nicargaua has also placed the Miskito Cays on its T List - another part of the CBM. This Connection lists actual WHS which are a part of the Corridor from Sian Ka'an all the way down to Los Katios - http://www.worldheritagesite.org/tags/tag.php?id=1250

What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? www.worldheritagesite.org Forum / What are they doing all day in Paris anyway? /
 Slippery Slope of Transboundary/Transnational Nominations

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