Australia holds its breath as UNESCO decides whether the Great Barrier Reef is ‘endangered’ – with fears the new classification could hurt the image of the natural wonder
- Government is awaiting a decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee
- The Committee is deciding whether the Great Barrier Reef is an endangered site
- Australian politicians are worried the classification could hurt the reef
The federal government is awaiting a decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that could label the Great Barrier Reef an endangered natural site.
The committee, which is meeting both virtually and in the Chinese city of Fuzhou, is expected to vote on the draft decision on Friday night AEST.
Australian politicians have publicly campaigned against the reef being classified as being ‘in danger,’ fearing it would hurt the image of the economically important natural wonder, and suggested that the decision could be influenced by tensions with the Chinese government.
The federal government is awaiting a decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that could label the Great Barrier Reef an endangered natural site
The director and the president of the 44th session, China’s vice minister of education Tian Xuejun, has rejected speculation that the move was related to politics.
‘Australia, as a member state of the World Heritage Committee, should… attach importance to the opinions of the advisory bodies and earnestly fulfil the duty of World Heritage protection instead of making groundless accusations against other states,’ he said on Sunday.
Tian said the Great Barrier Reef proposal was based on data from Australia and recommendations from an advisory body.
Tian said the Great Barrier Reef proposal was based on data from Australia and recommendations from an advisory body
The draft decision says Australia’s long-term plan for the reef ‘requires stronger and clearer commitments, in particular towards urgently countering the effects of climate change’.
Australia may still be able to delay the vote to a later session in 2023 after its delegation submitted an amendment to the proposed text suggesting this, an idea that was backed by a majority of committee member countries.
The Great Barrier Reef has been a World Heritage Site since 1981.
UNESCO on Thursday decided not to list the tourist city of Venice as endangered after the Italian government announced a ban on large cruise ships passing through parts of the Venice Lagoon.
Currently, 53 World Heritage sites are classified as endangered.