The Great Barrier Reef will not be listed as a world heritage site in danger after consideration by the World Heritage Committee. A proposal made by scientists at UNESCO earlier this year called on the committee to list the barrier reef as an endangered site, following degradation caused by climate change and human interference. During the 21-country World Heritage Committee meeting, it was decided that the reef will not be listed as endangered just yet, but the committee allowed room for future considerations.
The decision came after intense lobbying against the listing by the Australian government. Before the World Heritage Committee meeting, Australia flew about a dozen ambassadors from Canberra to Cairns for a snorkeling trip on the reef. Further, Australia’s environment minister Sussan Ley made diplomatic trips to several destinations including Budapest, Madrid, Sarajevo, Oman, Paris and the Maldives.
Instead of listing the reef as a site in danger, the committee asked UNESCO to carry out a mission on the reef in the coming months and send a progress report for further consideration by February 2022. This decision has been interpreted by lobby groups for the listing as a positive result, even though what they wanted has not been attained.
The Australian government has pledged several times to care for the reef, an indication that the vast country was taking action against climate change. Even so, action has been limited. Today, Australia remains one of the leading producers of coal and gas. Initially, the country won support from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, both members of the World Heritage Committee, to delay the listing until 2023. However, further debate among member countries led to the decision to have the matter considered again in next year’s meeting.
“Our concern was always that Unesco had sought an immediate ‘in danger listing’ without appropriate consultation, without a site visit and without all the latest information, and it is clear that this process has concerned not only Australia but other nations as well,” said Ley.
On UNESCO’s side, its members presented strong arguments, saying that the reef had already met all the criteria to be listed as an endangered site. Federal environment spokesperson Terri Butler said that the decision now gives the Australian government a reprieve and a chance to make conditions better for the reef.
Via The Guardian
Lead image via Pixabay