Overview of Parks Canada’s Responses to the World Heritage Committee

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In December of 2014, the Mikisew Cree First Nation submitted a petition to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee requesting inclusion of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The petition cited a number of concerns related to impacts of industrial development and climate change on the ecology and hydrology of the Peace-Athabasca Delta that could negatively impact the site’s world heritage values (technically called its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

After considering the petition, the World Heritage Committee issued a decision in July of 2015 requesting that Canada host a Reactive Monitoring Mission and undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to assess the potential cumulative impacts of all developments (hydroelectric dams, oil sands, and mining) on the site’s world heritage values. The pace, scale and complexity of development in the region, and its potential impact on the World Heritage Site, and the Peace-Athabasca Delta (the PAD) in particular, were noted with concern by the Committee.

From 25 September to 4 October 2016, Parks Canada, as the federal agency responsible for implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Canada and manager of Wood Buffalo National Park, hosted a joint Reactive Monitoring Mission (RMM) of the World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). To better understand and discuss the impacts of upstream developments on the park’s world heritage values, mission delegates met with representatives from Indigenous communities associated with WBNP, officials from federal, territorial, and provincial governments, scientists, industry representatives, and non-government organizations. The mission report, including 17 recommendations, was released on March 10, 2017.  The RMM Report is available from the World Heritage Centre.

State of Conservation Report

Upon request from the World Heritage Committee, Parks Canada submits regular State of Conservation reports. All State of Conservation reports are publicly available on the World Heritage website.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

In late 2016 Parks Canada awarded a contract to external consultants to prepare the SEA requested by the World Heritage Committee. The SEA was completed in May 2018. More information on the SEA is available here.

Action Plan

In response to a 2017 request from the World Heritage Committee, Parks Canada and its federal, provincial and territorial partners are working together through a multi-jurisdiction Action Plan. The Action Plan was submitted to the World Heritage Committee on February 1, 2019 More information on the Action Plan is available here.