the 40th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting held in Istanbul, Turkey

The World Heritage Committee at the 40th Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting, was held in Istanbul, Turkey from July 10 to July 20. The World Heritage Committee  unanimously concluded that Ethiopia's  Kuraz Sugar Development Project neıther endangered the Lower Omo Valley World Heritage Site nor compromised any environmental issues. This was reiterated in the presence of a high level Ethiopian delegation led by State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Taye Atseke-Selassie. 

It was to be recalled that the Committee had adopted a decision at its 38th session criticizing Ethiopia over the Kuraz Sugar projects, suggesting it was negatively affecting the World Heritage site of Lower Omo Valley. It had, therefore, called on Ethiopia to halt further developments. One of the main items on the agenda of this 40th session of the Committee was whether there had been a negative impact on the Heritage and/ or should ıt be included in the list of Heritage Sites in danger. Ethiopia attended the meeting to provide evidence for the Committee that its development efforts did not endanger the World Heritage sites nor did they compromise on any environmental issues.

The World Heritage Committee composed of 21 countries welcomed all the efforts exerted by the State Party of Ethiopia to sustainably conserve and develop the Lower Omo World Heritage Site. The Committee also appreciated Ethiopia for its successful coordination of the UNESCO-ICOMOS (International Counsil on Monuments and Sites) Joint Reactive Monitoring Mission. Members of the Committee further welcomed the additional documents submitted by the State Party, such as a map showing the geographic extent of the Kuraz Sugar Development Project vis-à-vis the Lower Omo Valley World Heritage Site.

The Committee also recognized the ongoing effort by the State Party to review the Environmental Impact Assessment and Heritage Impact Assessment based on the new realities on ground.  

Accordingly, the World Heritage Committee acknowledged that the Kuraz Sugar Development Projects has currently no impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site of Lower Omo Valley.

At the end, an amended decision, whıch clearly states that Kuraz Suagr Dvelopment Project neıther endangered the World Heritage site nor compromised any environmental issues, has been put forward by members of the committee and adopted unanimously. Members of the Ethıopıan hıgh level delegatıon also ınclude Director General for Authority on Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Ato Yonas Desta, Ambassador of Ethıopıa to France and UNESCO,  Ambassador Nega Tsegaye and Ethıopıan Ambassador to Turkey, Ambassador Ayalew Gobeze.