¡Detengan las imprentas! Unesco acaba de colgar aquel faltante documento del que hablábamos ayer: el WHC-13/37.COM/7B.Add. Si no tienen tiempo de correr a la página 184 a ver lo del Casco Viejo, les damos el resumen ejecutivo:
The World Heritage Committee,
[...] Considers that the work already undertaken on the new construction of the Maritime Viaduct impacts adversely on the property and decides to inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger, in conformity with Paragraphs 177 and 179 of the Operational Guidelines;
Entonces, después del golpe echemos pa’trás a ver cómo fue que quedamos en estas. Semblanza histórica de una muerte anunciada. Las partes resaltadas en rojo son mías propias de mi persona misma.
d) Cinta Costera project
The 2009 reactive monitoring mission to the property noted that the Phase II of the Cinta Costera project, located at the seaside area of Terraplan, had been constructed without carrying out environmental impact studies or a heritage impact assessment, and without informing the World Heritage Committee. Additionally, the mission noted that the Phase III project foreseen at the time could have an impact on the property; consequently the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session (Seville, 2009) requested the State Party to provide a final report, including the analysis and monitoring of the impacts derived from the construction of the Cinta Costera Phase II and the potential impacts on the property from the possible continuation of Phase III.
In 2010, the state of conservation report examined by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010) noted that Phase III of Cinta Costera was expected to continue at the time with a tunnel that would cross approximately 1 km. of the Historic Centre or by surrounding the Peninsula of the Historic District. The 2010 reactive monitoring mission to the property verified that works had continued on Phase II and that no additional information could be procured regarding the social impacts, conservation requirements, or impact assessments of the project. It also noted that Phase II of the Cinta Costera had resulted in the radical transformation of the waterfront and the impacted on the character of the old harbour area at Terraplan. The mission noted that the proposal of Cinta Costera Phase III to surround the peninsula could have an aggressive impact on the view sheds to and from the Historic Centre and could impact on the conditions of authenticity and integrity of the property. It further noted that no other alternatives for the continuation of the project at Phase III had been sufficiently explored at the time. In Decision 34 COM 7B.113, the World Heritage Committee requested the State Party to halt the Cinta Costera Project and to submit the necessary technical studies and impact assessments prior to approval and implementation, as well as to explore and submit other alternative proposals to address the traffic concerns effectively.
At its 35th Session (UNESCO, 2011) the World Heritage Committee noted the commitment made by the State Party at the Committee session to submit all projects, studies and proposals related to alternatives for future works of the Cinta Costera Phase III for evaluation, including technical specifications and heritage impact assessments. The Committee also requested that the construction of Phase III of the Cinta Costera be discontinued, as it would potentially have an adverse impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
On 31 January 2012, the State Party presented, as the only alternative it was submitting for consideration and review by the World Heritage Committee, a definitive proposal to construct a Maritime Viaduct, Phase III of the Cinta Costera, to the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS. In the state of conservation report examined by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) it was noted, based on the evaluation of the Heritage Impact Assessment, that the project posed a potential threat to the integrity and authenticity of the property as it would transform the Historic District’s traditional form, its appearance on the coastline and would irreversibly compromise the existing relationship between the Historic Centre and the sea and particularly impact the setting of the property in the peninsula and the singularity of the fortified precinct. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies considered that alternative solutions had not yet been sufficiently explored nor had comprehensive technical assessments to discard other options had been presented. The statement requesting the evaluation of only one proposal also precluded the possibility for dialogue about other potential solutions. The World Heritage Committee requested, in Decision 36 COM 7.B103, that impact studies on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property be carried out and also requested the State Party to implement a series of measures to comprehensively address the precarious state of conservation of the property.
On 21 January 2013 the State Party provided a report “Solution for the future traffic demand of Panama City”, elaborated by Halcrow Consulting. This report explains the rapid growth of Panama City and details of the traffic problems and states that the Maritime Viaduct will have urban expressways with three lanes in each direction, connecting directly to Avenida de Balboa and Avenida de los Poetas. The report does not provide any details for alternative options to face the acknowledged increasing growth of traffic.
ii. Current situation
On 7 September 2012, the State Party made a presentation at UNESCO of the “Impact Study of the Cinta Costera III Maritime Viaduct to its Outstanding Universal Value under the currently inscribed criteria of C790 Property, Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama”. In further communications with the World Heritage Centre, throughout September 2012, the State Party indicated that the presented option had been revised to address impacts identified through the incorporation of mitigation measures and compensations. It underscored that the San Felipe Island, which would have faced the Presidential Palace, had been removed from the final design.
On 24 September 2012, a letter from civil society organizations in Panama was received by the Director General of UNESCO providing notification of the construction of the maritime viaduct. On 17 October 2012 a letter from the Permanent Delegation of Panama to UNESCO was received in response to the request for information regarding claims of the commencement of construction works. The State Party indicated that the impact study delivered in September 2012 for evaluation was considered as formal compliance with paragraphs 6 and 7 of the decision of the World Heritage Committee (36 COM 7B.103) and that it therefore considered the construction of the Road Interconnection on Maritime Viaduct could commence. The letter also confirmed the disposition of the State Party to receive suggestions, contributions and inputs on the necessary technical viability for optimizing the design and informed that Delegations of the World Heritage Committee had visited the site to this purpose. As of January 2013, information available in the public domain states that almost 50% of the Viaduct has been constructed. By official communication, the State Party confirmed on 25th April 2013 that 55% of the infrastructure has already been completed.
iii. Assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property
The impact study submitted by the State Party noted that the Maritime Viaduct, Phase III of the Cinta Costera does not affect the criteria for inscription of the property. However, the report highlighted the attributes of the property in terms of the shape and design that influenced the evolution of military architecture in the Americas. It underscored their low profile and adaptation of the settlement to the shape of the peninsula, and considered the prime importance of the location and the setting, both critical attributes to the authenticity of the property. The report indicates “the main reason why the city was moved after the destruction of Panama Viejo was the desire to fortify it. As the site of the cove lent itself to the building of a walled enclosure, it was chosen despite its narrowness. The peninsula afforded an additional advantage: on its eastern and southern flanks the beach has a surface of sharp rocks that would have significantly hampered any attempt to attack from there. Given these characteristics, this environment was an integral part of the defensive system”.
The study highlighted that the setting and current landscape, understood as being comprised of the Historic District, the surrounding Bay of Panama and its panoramas, the waterfront, the skyline of Panama City and Ancon Hill, that had remained unaltered in terms of the location of the Historic Centre, the environment of sharp rocks to the east and south of San Felipe, around three crags which appear in historical cartography as “The Three Sisters”, would be altered. The report included a photo, taken from Google Earth, corresponding exactly to a 18th century map of the city and it further highlighted that “from a distance, the landscape of the Historic Centre seems to be largely unchanged since the 19th century”. The report also mentions that “the unobstructed view, in its perception of foreground and background, is part of the collective memory of the capital’s population”. The indirect impacts noted are classified to include visual repercussion, noise impact, tidal, background of the metropolitan scene, functional, and territorial relation on the site. The report acknowledges the indirect, visual impact on the waterfront setting of the property and ranks them as large to very large major changes (pages 209, 213-215). Notwithstanding these considerations, the report considered that the visual impact on the waterfront setting could be mitigated through changes to the design. No technical details were provided in terms of the mitigation measures foreseen to ensure the viaduct did not impact adversely on the waterfront setting.
[...] The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies concur with the need to consider improvements to road infrastructure to meet increasing traffic demands but point out that no alternatives to the Maritime Viaduct were sufficiently explored and that the construction began without allowing the World Heritage Committee appropriate time for evaluation, and identification of possible recommendations. They note the efforts made in carrying out the impact studies but consider that, although adverse impacts had been identified with the option selected for the Maritime Viaduct, there was not a clear explanation in any of the documents provided on why other alternatives were totally rejected. In addition, the report “Solution for the future traffic demand of Panama City” underscores the accelerated growth of Panama City and the challenges it faces in regard to traffic demands and the urgent need to reorganise road infrastructure. However, it focuses on justifying why the Maritime Viaduct is the only alternative without contemplating any other alternatives or balancing their pros and cons. There are no substantiated justifications that would indicate that the viaduct will effectively and, most importantly, sustainably provide long-term solutions to these traffic issues.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies underscore the negative visual impacts of the Maritime Viaduct that will adversely impact on and transform the setting of the Historic Centre. They further note that the Maritime Viaduct is a structure of a very strong shape with a high visual impact which does not integrate harmoniously with the Historic District and establishes an undesirable contrast with regard to its maritime context. They consider that the ability of the property to convey its Outstanding Universal Value, as a fortified settlement in a Peninsula and as a testimony to the nature of the early settlements, with a layout and urban design adapted to a particular context, are being adversely compromised. The urban layout and scale and the relationship between the city and its setting, attributes crucial to the understanding of the evolution of the property, will also be adversely impacted.
The Maritime Viaduct, which, when complete in a few months’ time, will closely encircle the coastline that has been the edge of the Historic District since its foundation in the 17th century, will alter view sheds to and from the Historic Centre. Furthermore, the work already carried out on this large-scale infrastructure is impacting significantly and adversely on the integrity and the authenticity of the property, in terms of the way it conveys its historic strategic and defensive location on the Central American isthmus, a crucial attribute of its Outstanding Universal Value.
Given the current degree and extent of the adverse impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property derived from the construction of the Maritime Viaduct and the state of conservation of the built fabric, the World Heritage and the Advisory Bodies note that the World Heritage Committee might wish to inscribe this property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Entonces, marquen su calendario entre el 17 y 27 de junio. Abrimos las apuestas a ver quiénes son los suertudos que van a defender nuestra cinta costera nuestro patrimonio en Nom Pen y Siem Reap/Angkor Wat.