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UNESCO criticises Macau government over preservation of the Historic Center

A United Nations body under the purview of UNESCO has criticized the MSAR government over its handling of the preservation of the Historic Center of Macau.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

A United Nations body under the purview of UNESCO has criticized the MSAR government over its handling of the preservation of the Historic Center of Macau.

A World Heritage Site since 2005, the Historic Center of Macau is currently one of the topics under discussion at the 41st session of the World Heritage Group in Poland, which will conclude on July 12.

According to UNESCO, “Decision 41 COM 7B.87” has now been adopted by the organization, outlining the dangers facing the cultural integrity of the Historic Center of Macau.

“It has been adopted without amendments and without discussion,” Lucía Iglesias, a UNESCO press officer told the Macau Daily Times.

According to Macau Daily Times, among other issues, the document highlighted “serious concerns” regarding “adverse development projects” and the danger to heritage sites posed by violations of the building height restrictions at the Macau Fisherman’s Wharf and other locations.

According to the Decision, the committee noted its regret with “the lack of progress with the completion of the [urban] Management Plan, which was due for submission by 1 February, 2015, and reiterates its request to the State Party [Macau government] to complete this Management Plan as a matter of priority, and to submit it to the World Heritage Center.”

The Decision also noted member states’ concerns regarding future development projects involving reclaimed land, and requested that Macau authorities submit detailed proposals for all current land reclamation projects.

Following the adoption of the document, the Macau government will now be asked to complete a Heritage Impact Assessment for future and planned development projects, which should then be submitted to the World Heritage Center for review.

The local government has been asked to submit an update on the state of conservation of the Historic Center of Macau by December 1, 2018.

The President of Macau’s Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC), Leung Hio Ming, said last week that the government department would be sending a representative to the 41st session, along with a delegation from the People’s Republic of China State Cultural Heritage Administration.

“The wording from the World Heritage Center isn’t that strong,” Leung said at the time. “It is just a formal way to address the issue. It is an important issue and we are concerned with it, but […] it is just a list of points that we have to work with [before] the end of 2018.”

The IC president was referring to the Draft Decision, published on May 19, which has now been adopted without amendment. It is not clear whether the bureau raised an objection during the meeting in Poland or previously in its correspondence with UNESCO.

Photo: Antonius Photoscript

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:44 am

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