The state of heritage conservation in Macau is “not that critical, but it is critical enough to be considered for listing on the World Heritage ‘in Danger List’,” Sharif Shams Imon, a member of ICOMOS [International Council on Monuments and Sites] – UNESCO’s advisory body on cultural matters – told Business Daily.
Imon, who is also the incumbent head of the Heritage Management Programme at the Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT), expressed his views as the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) drew to an end yesterday.
During the session, the Committee adopted a report highlighting poor heritage management and the inability of the Macau SAR Government to fulfil previous recommendations by the State Party (China) and the Committee itself.
As a result, the government has now to submit its Protection and Management Plan (PMP) by December 1, 2018, after missing its February 1, 2015 deadline.
The ICOMOS member said that putting a site on the in-danger list “may be seen as a punishment.”
“The main purpose of such listing is to highlight the issue and draw extra attention to it. The option is not off the table and the committee may consider it next year if there is no real progress [on the part of Macau],” he pointed out.
In the advent of a less favourable position, he claimed that “prestige, pride, a sense of identity, good reputation, and tourism” would be put at stake.
“To understand what the city and the population will lose if the World Heritage status is taken away, one needs to understand what Macau gained when the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List,” he emphasised.
At this stage, he opined that “it’s hard to say how much one will be affected. But it’ll definitely affect many things. No-one wants to lose face.”
The 41st session of the WHC has inscribed 21 new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, 18 of which are cultural sites and three of which are natural sites.
A total of 33 proposals were evaluated by the Committee during the meeting in Krakow, Poland – with six relating to natural sites, 26 to cultural, and one mixed.