UNESCO regrets decision on construction of bridge that threatens delisting of Dresden Elbe Valley from World Heritage List

Erklärung vom 14. November 2007

UNESCO regrets the decision of a German court to authorize the construction of a bridge likely to lead to the deletion of the cultural landscape of Dresden Elbe Valley (Germany)* from the World Heritage List. The status of the property on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List is due to be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee at its next meeting in July 2008.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura and the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, Christina Cameron (Canada), issued the following statement about Dresden Elbe Valley, inscribed as a cultural landscape on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2004:

"We regret the decision of a German court announced today authorizing the construction of the Waldschlösschen Bridge that could irreversibly damage the values and integrity of the Dresden Elbe Valley. It saddens us that the intense negotiations launched between UNESCO and the national and municipal authorities of Germany have failed to secure the protection of a site so recently inscribed on the World Heritage List.

In keeping with the decision it took in Christchurch, New Zealand, this year,* the World Heritage Committee will review developments in Dresden Elbe Valley at its next session in Quebec in July 2008. Upon receiving a technical assessment of the impact of the construction of the bridge on the Outstanding Universal Value of the site, the Committee will take a decision on its deletion from the World Heritage List."

Mr Matsuura and Ms Cameron also highlighted the fact that "Removing properties from the World Heritage List is never a satisfactory solution as UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention and World Heritage List have been created to ensure the preservation and enhancement of our shared heritage. UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee consider their role in this regard to consist of enriching the world’s treasured heritage, not impoverishing it."

The only site ever removed from the World Heritage List was the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman) which was delisted in July 2007. The World Heritage List numbers 851 properties.

*See link for more about Dresden Elbe Valley

Author(s):Press release N°2007-145


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