"This year is the 40th anniversary of the Great Barrier Reef being on the world
heritage list. It should be a time to celebrate. Yet Unesco has released a
draft report recommending the reef be put on a list of world heritage sites
that are “in danger”.
Unesco has absolutely made the right decision. The reef is in danger. It is
time for the Australian government to take ambitious climate action for the
This is first time a world heritage site has been proposed for in-danger
listing as a result of climate change impacts, although it is important to
recognise that agricultural runoff is also a very high threat to inshore reefs
and an issue that Unesco and International Union for Conservation of Nature are
very concerned about.
The Australian government has announced it will fight the draft decision. This
is not a wise move. The world heritage convention is a legal document. As a
signatory, Australia has a legal obligation to protect, conserve and transmit
to future generations the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier
Reef. By not doing its utmost to tackle the biggest threat to the reef,
Australia is not meeting its legal obligations.
China is the chair of the committee but the draft report and decision are
produced by Unesco’s World Heritage Centre and IUCN only. The Australian
government has claimed political involvement in the draft decision but produced
no evidence for this.
If the world heritage committee endorses the decision next month, Australia
will have to come up with corrective measures to tackle climate change
compatible with a 1.5C pathway – a critical threshold for coral reefs. Unesco
and IUCN would send a reactive monitoring mission to Australia to help design
the corrective measures. This would likely occur in the lead-up to a federal
That’s why the government wants to avoid this listing at all costs, but the
Great Barrier Reef needs this to survive."
Via Glyn Moody, who wrote "Australian gov behaving badly, yet again…"
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics