The Great Barrier Reef will be listed as a World Heritage Site in danger if UNESCO’s recommendations are adopted. In the draft recommendations, UNESCO has urged the World Heritage Committee to consider listing the reef as an endangered World Heritage Site to speed up actions for its protection.
Following multiple warnings from scientists, it has become clear that the impacts of warm weather along the reef are destroying it, leaving many corals dying or already dead. UNESCO now says that listing the site as endangered would spur ”the most ambitious actions to address climate change” from Australia’s government.
The World Heritage Committee will meet in China on July 16, and the recommendations will be top on the agenda. If adopted, the Great Barrier Reef will become the first natural World Heritage Site to be listed as in danger due to climate change. While the reef itself is considered a living organism and not just a site, it cannot be classified among land or sea creatures for protections.
The recommendations have been strongly opposed by Australian leaders, terming them a political move. While speaking to members of the press, environment minister Sussan Ley said the government will “strongly oppose” such a move.
“When procedures are not followed, when the process is turned on its head five minutes before the draft decision is due to be published, when the assurances my officials received and indeed I did have been upended,” Ley told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “What else can you conclude but that it is politics?”
Although the Australian government has a plan that targets to counter climate change and save natural sites, like the famous reef, by 2050, action toward achieving the plan has been limited. UNESCO pointed out in its recommendations that the government should increase its actions to curb the impacts of climate change.
In recent years, there have been mass bleaching events along the Great Barrier Reef. According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the damages have already downgraded the condition of the reef to “critical”.
“The widespread effects of the consecutive coral bleaching events further add to the significant concerns regarding the future of the property,” reads the UNESCO recommendations.
For many years, the Australian government has been facing off against UNESCO in an attempt to avoid such a designation. The government successfully blocked a similar move in 2015 and pushed for coal mining projects instead. UNESCO hopes that with the effects of climate change being apparent globally, the decision will this time be in their favor.
Via Huffington Post
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