New independent review of World Heritage and the extractive industry was published today in response to growing concerns over the rapidly increasing number of World Heritage Sites threatened by planned mining or oil and gas projects.
This report, the result of a joint project by IUCN, the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), JP Morgan Bank, Shell International and UNESCO, proposes practical ways of strengthening the role of the World Heritage Convention in safeguarding these iconic areas.
Companies such as Shell and the financial services firm JP Morgan, as well as ICMM, which brings together many of the world’s major mining companies, have recognized the importance of conserving World Heritage Sites and have committed not to undertake activities that would damage them. However, a number of countries and companies still profit from resource exploration in these sensitive areas. Threats to natural World Heritage sites from mining activities are growing, especially in Africa, where one out of four iconic natural areas is negatively affected.
“These exceptional places, which cover less than 1 % of the Earth’s surface, have been included on the World Heritage List because they are of outstanding value to all of humanity. It’s the duty of every one of us to cooperate in their protection and conservation,” says Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “It is clear that the desired conservation outcomes will not be achieved through individual corporate commitments alone; the task of ensuring World Heritage Sites are not impacted by extractive industries cannot be effective if it is a commitment of only a few responsible companies.”
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Note to editors
Key recommendations include that:
• State parties withdraw all active or inactive mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation concessions that may still be in force within the boundaries of natural World Heritage properties under their jurisdiction
• That Private and state-owned national and international mining and energy companies commit to not take up any exploration or exploitation concessions already awarded to them within the boundaries of natural World Heritage Sites.
The report also affirms that the World Heritage Committee will not inscribe a natural property of which any part is subject to active or inactive mineral or hydrocarbon exploration or exploitation concessions or permits and requests that the World Heritage Centre and IUCN work with UNEP-WCMC to develop comprehensive and publicly accessible mapping of the buffer zones of natural World Heritage properties, as well as the sites on State Parties’ Tentative Lists