United Nations World Heritage Committee Considers Protecting The Great Barrier Reef

An Aussie icon...

An Aussie icon…

One of Australia’s biggest tourism drawcards is the world renowned Great Barrier Reef. Every year, thousands of travellers make their way to the wondrous site, bringing in millions of dollars worth of revenues and bolstering the nation’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world. But it might all go the way of the dinosaur, if the Australian Federal Government has anything to do with it…

It seems that the Government is desperately searching for quick solutions after it was revealed that the Great Barrier Reef would likely be added to the United Nations World Heritage Committee’s list of sites currently “in danger”. Environment Minister Greg Hunt has begun lobbying delegates and fellow ministers from countries that have seats on the UNWHC, asking them to refrain from voting for the measure.

At a Senate Estimates Hearing earlier in the year, the secretary of the department of foreign affairs, Peter Varghese, described the state of relations:

“We are running a major campaign to prevent a listing of the Great Barrier Reef as being in danger. There have been a number of assertions made about the management of the Great Barrier Reef and about its vulnerability that are not grounded in fact and which need to be rebutted. We have tasked several of our heads of mission … to make that clear to the investment community.”

Since then, the minister and his staff have spent over forty thousand dollars on lobbying and various travel related expenses. The intense efforts have resulted in several high profile meetings, but very little in the way of proper environmental outcomes. Critics (within Australia and the international community) have been quick to point out this glaring lack of consistency. It’s almost as though the Federal Government just wants the whole matter ‘dead, buried and cremated’.

Last year, the UNWHC decided to defer a decision until June of this year. At that time, member states of the UN raised serious concerns about the future of the reef ecosystem. Bravely, the Jamaican delegation took the Government to task.

“We acknowledge with concerns the range of threats facing this exceptional example of [Outstanding Universal Value]. Based purely on the evidence referenced by the experts, it is clear that the integrity of the site is at risk. We would wish to encourage the State Party [Australia] to urgently review its recent decisions regarding development projects.”

What’s sad is that many concerned Australians feel the same way…


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